Academy Awards: Betting on “Taxi” and “No End in Sight”


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I’m way behind in my movies this year. Been too busy blogging!
But I have special interest this year in two films — one directed by Charles Ferguson called No End in Sight — Alex Gibney is one of the executive producers. An incredible documentary on the horrific management of the Iraq occupation. Here are some of my thoughts on this film earlier in the year.
And another is Alex Gibney’s film Taxi to the Dark Side — which has Sidney Blumenthal as one of the executive producers. I wrote about this film recently.
Former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson appears in both — and I think that the country needs to see and digest each of these films. Good luck to all.
— Steve Clemons


16 comments on “Academy Awards: Betting on “Taxi” and “No End in Sight”

  1. Linda says:

    I have no doubt that you are valid and patriotic, and I will defend to the death your First Amendment rights. I was mainly putting off doing my tax returns, and being retired, I don’t owe the feds or GA anything–so I’m have reason to not be as angry as you are. I’m not paying for the War or anything Congress or Bush are doing. But I am angry that they are wasting your tax money and that of my friends and family.
    Sorry for any insult to Fresno or you. I do have a good friend there–not my favorite part of CA.
    And getting back on topic, I do hope that a wide audience gets to see “Taxi to the Dark Side.”


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Linda. I am not in Fresno.
    And the depth and details of my off-line political activism is my own personal business, not a report card for your approval or validation.
    I don’t need to validate myself, or my patriotism, to you, or anyone else.


  3. Linda says:

    We really don’t disagree that much. I just won’t pin down any politician on just one justification or explanation. impeachment is a serious thing and might have made sense in 2003 or 2004, but not enough people yet had the facts–so by 2006, it wasn’t worth doing. It was necessary for Nixon. But it can be a silly political act as it was with Johnson after Civil War and with Clinton. And I was no fan of Clinton as I thought he should have resigned in 8/98 and saved the country the next six months of nothing but scandal and impeachment. If he had done that, Gore would have been elected in 2000.
    Mainly I’m responding because I’m procrastinating about getting out all the papers and Turbo-Tax, but part of the problem with blogs is that people say things that they’d never say to anyone’s face.
    We’d probably have a pleasant but heated exchange in person. For example, while not exactly the same, Clinton tonight in the debate would not dare use a scolding tone and say “Shame on you” to Obama.
    Riots in the streets are so 1968. I did march on Hollywood Blvd with about 10-20,000 people in 2/03 to try to stop our going to war. Were you out there doing the same in Fresno?


  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Linda, the other candidates have not denied Bush’s abuses as an excuse to justify their refusal to support impeachment. They have simply ignored those abuses. And you are right, that in itself is egregious. But Obama offered a false rationale for his position on impeachment. He lied to us, there is no other way to put it. And personally, I am sick of false rationales and lies, and they hardly constitute “change”, do they? If Obama felt impeachment would fail, and thats why he didn’t consider it feasable, than he should have just said so. But Obama DOES know Constitutional law, and he DOES know that a failure to impeach these bastards, (or at the very least, pursue accountability) is a huge dereliction of oath sworn duty. So instead, he took the easy way out, the coward’s way, and offered the one statement that NO presidential candidate should EVER utter, that the Office of the Presidency is above the law.
    You want realistic solutions, ones that citizens can actual implement? Well, the process has been corrupted, as we saw in 2000 and 2004. We cannot peacefully, constructivelly, and meaningfully protest anymore, as demonstrated by the introduction of back alley “Free Speach Zones”. The candidates that buck the status quo are marginalized, demonized, ostracized and ignored, as we just saw with Paul and Kucinich….
    Realistic solutions, eh? Perhaps its time for riots.


  5. Linda says:

    Your accusations of Obama could be leveled at everyone in Congress, and they never had the votes to impeach even in 2006.
    At the end of last week, you got the perfect candidate to support who is totally honest about all these issues, knows the Constitution, etc.
    So why don’t you get out and work for Nader?
    I’d like to hear some realistic ideas and solutions from you. You obviously are smart and well-informed and hide behind that just being some contractor building homes for rich people in Fresno. I really like reading what you have to say on the rare occasions when you aren’t so angry.


  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Changing the commander-in-chief will help too with the military, but it’s going to take years of work to undo the damage that has been done to our country, our Constitution, our safety, our military”
    What damage need we repair? Haven’t you heard, Bush acted within his authority. Just ask Obama.


  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “We’ve never disagreed about that. So what have you accomplished by getting me to agree with you?”
    I have shown that you believe Obama to be either a liar, or completely unwilling to uphold Constitutional law, and abide by his Oath of Office. Why in God’s name would you advocate for such a candidate? And what assurances can you offer that Obama won’t hold himself equally above the law?


  8. Linda says:

    My comment above was answering POA.
    Larissa, Pauline,
    I did see “Sixty Minutes” and I do hope they rerun it as it is a very important story—and ran against Barbara Walters special and red carpet before the Oscars. But the segment did show in its entirety in Atlanta.
    HBO is some progress but not enough as I personally can’t afford premium cable. It needs to be aired where the most people can see it.
    MSM has done a very poor job on all of this. Changing the commander-in-chief will help too with the military, but it’s going to take years of work to undo the damage that has been done to our country, our Constitution, our safety, our military. I think that perhaps we will need something like what was done in South Africa.


  9. Linda says:

    We’ve never disagreed about that. So what have you accomplished by gettng me to agree with you? I have no idea what you have done or did to try to stop Bush and this war. I know what I have done. But I am not going to debate you about that. It’s about as silly as discussing which citizen or candidate is more patriotic or who is lying or not.
    I do think that more people need to be exposed to “Taxi to the Dark Side” so that they can understand what you and I and most of the readers of TWN know. We don’t have a very well informed citizenry.
    So I hear a lot of bluster and anger and name calling and put-downs from you. I don’t hear any practical or realistic solutions or suggestions.
    Do you feel better now that I concede only that we agree on the question that you asked me? You pinned me in a corner in a most disagreeable and insulting mannner to admit that we agree. I don’t think anybody is going to change anyone’s mind that way.


  10. Mary says:

    The Discovery Channel had purchased the rights to air “Taxi to the Dark Side” but after it was nominated for an Academy Award decided not to air it as “too controversial.” I hope that someone other network, perhaps CNN or one of the regular commercial networks will air it in prime time so that a wide audience can see it.
    Scott Horton has a reference in a post that Discovery has flipped the rights to HBO.
    The unfailing silence of Democrats on issues like these is disturbing beyond belief. And more disturbing – it is not as if Dilawar’s story is new, or undocumented. IIRC, Gall had incredible difficulty getting anyone to run with this story forever, but even so it has been out for some time, and largely ignored. Other stories, such as the disappearance of KSM’s children, the human trafficking of children to GITMO, the human trafficking of others, such as a bipolar London chef, to GITMO, outright statements, with accreditation, by former intelligence personnel who went to GITMO as to how many innocent persons were held there – innocent of even being fighters of any kind, mujahadeen or taliban, etc. etc. etc. and yet the Clintons and McCains in particular, and to a lesser extent the Obamas, and certainly all of State Dept and the Bellingers, and all of DOJ and the Mukaseys, Keislers, Gonzalez, Ashcrofts, Goldsmiths, Yoos, Bradburys etc. – all go about their business, day in, day out, and never say anything other than the daily affirmation that the “worst of the worst” are at GITMO and that the people handling things are “good people.”
    The Good People Stuart Smalley affirmation for American torture is being parroted in the 2-21 posts linked as well. Those who engaged in torture killings aren’t “bad people” according to those posts, just good people, doing bad things, because of a lack of direction.
    That’s bull.
    The degree of culpability may vary, but someone like Corsettis is not a child under 4, the men and women at Bagram, at GITMO, in DOJ, etc. are not all in various stages of poddy training, not truly responsible for their “accidents” They are all adults and all made their choices. The approach of “it’s not your fault, there there, it’s your mommy’s fault for not taking you poddy before you left home” is nonsense.
    Rumsfeld and Haynes and Bush and the cabal are liable and we as a nation as liable for taking 18 and 20 yos, pumping them up on a need to go and seek REVENGE for 9/11, and whispering to them that no one would be watching, and they can do anything, and they are the Jack Bauers, and the “sand niggers” aren’t people, and setting up depraved situations. But what people do in those situations is still their choice, the one they made, the one they live with, the one they are judged by.
    And not everyone chooses to be depraved. There’s a revelation.
    We have reached a point now where, institutionally, almost half of the active military will admit in written polls that they think torture is ok. That is the “fault” of their leaders, certainly. It is the fault of every single one of us here who downplays both torture and that there should ever be accountability for torture by the torturers (maybe a reprimand to their superior officers, but no accountability for the hand that tortures). But it is also very clearly and very distinctly the choice of those who embrace it.
    That we have more and more who are willing to be torturers does not make them less and less culpable for that choice.


  11. pauline says:

    This news story (not covered much here?) definitely belongs in the “Taxi to the Dark Side” catagory.
    “Larisa Alexandrovna (investgative editor of is sizzling at Huffington Post, and rightfully so, in my view. She’s been reporting about the political persecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman [photo], who is currently serving a seven-year sentence in federal prison, for nothing more — apparently — than having been a successful Democratic politician in a “Republican state”.
    As I mentioned in an earlier post, CBS aired a segment on this story on 60 Minutes earlier this evening. Well, guess what?
    As 60 Minutes was putting its show together, the White House put pressure on CBS — the parent company — to kill the show. Over the last few days, as word got out that the 60 Minutes show would air tonight, Karl Rove’s associates began planting defamatory stories about journalists working on this story (see example here) and attacking the whistle-blower who came forward, Dana Jill Simpson. If you recall, Ms. Simpson testified, under oath, to Congress about Karl Rove’s involvement in politicizing the DOJ. What you may not know, however, is that her house mysteriously caught fire and she was run off the road in the weeks leading up to her testimony.
    What you may also not know is that Governor Siegelman’s house was broken into twice during his trial as was his attorney’s office.
    Yesterday, the attacks on Simpson and journalists increased with a series of emails from the Alabama GOP. See Here.
    Tonight was something truly unseen in US history. During the 60 Minutes broadcast and ONLY during the Don Siegelman portion — the screen went black for Huntsville residents and Mobile residents. There are other reports of other locations, but I have not yet confirmed those. In Florida, a series of strange ads were running about the FISA bill and how Democrats are not tough on terrorism, apparently during the 60 Minutes hour and also right before 60 Minutes, but not after (still trying to confirm when the ads stopped running).
    In other words, in the United States of America, a man is imprisoned for being a Democrat. When reporters attempt to get this story out, they are threatened and smeared. When all else fails, the public is not allowed to see the news. This is not acceptable and I — as a US citizen — demand that Congress investigate this series of blackouts immediately. Any company involved in this must have their FCC license pulled too. Karl Rove may be gone from office, but he clearly is not gone from power. So long as his buddy, George W. Bush, continues to occupy the White House — what used to be a symbol of how a nation could both be governed and be free — we will continue toward abuse after imperial, no Soviet, abuse against us. That too is unacceptable.”
    from —


  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee Linda, you have all sorts of excuses for the complete lack of representation that these candidates exhibit, don’t you?
    The truth?? You’re the problem. Citizens like you have allowed, (therefore nurtured), the total disdain our leaders have for truth, accountability, the rule of law, and their duty to represent the best interests of the citizenry of this nation. Virtually every time someone brings up the truly status quo nature of Obama’s ethereal fairy dusting, you are there to tell us how “it won’t help his campaign” to ACT RESPONSIBLY, and TELL US THE TRUTH. When his statements about executive abuse are brought up, and his refusal to admit that Bush has committed “grave and intentional breeches of the president’s authority”, you offer platitudes and partisan fluff. But IN TRUTH, Obama is LYING to us when he implies that Bush has not committed “grave and intentional breeches of the president’s authority”, is he not? Either that, or Obama is COMPLETELY IGNORANT of Constitutional Law, never bothered to learn about checks and balances, and expects to be allowed the same abuses if achieving office.
    Tell ya what, Linda, lets settle this right here and now…..
    YES OR NO??


  13. Linda says:

    I strongly suggest to all TWN readers that you go back only four days to February 21 and listen to all the clips STeve posted (in the continued part of his blog) about “Taxi to the Dark Side” from when it was first screened in DC late last year.
    We all should have some appreciation and respect for the information that Steve brings us and think before we attack him or each other or viciously attack each other’s favored candidate.
    There are many issues, both of domestic and foreign policy, that matter in varying degrees to each of us. It’s easier to focus on any of them than on the disgrace of Abu Gharib, Guantanimo, torture, etc. I surely wouldn’t think of it as my number one issue at least not if asked and responding quickly. But the more I think about the unthinkable, it really is—because it was done in my name as a citizen of this country.
    This is not a really good topic for political campaigns, either in the primaries or general election. McCain says he is against torture, but I seriously doubt that he will apologize to the world and investigate more thoroughly. The next President needs to do that. We can disagree about which candidate is best situated to do that. Keeping us safe means more than anything else understanding why the jihadists hate us and not torturing or killing them–because the more we do that, the more they hate us. And it surely does no good for us to be hateful toward each other or toward Steve.
    The Discovery Channel had purchased the rights to air “Taxi to the Dark Side” but after it was nominated for an Academy Award decided not to air it as “too controversial.” I hope that someone other network, perhaps CNN or one of the regular commercial networks will air it in prime time so that a wide audience can see it.
    Steve, I hope that as you did with the Bolton confirmation, you will take a leading role in helping to make that happen.


  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Do we really need to turn to the theatre for finding the truth?
    If these posturing frauds like Hillary or Obama truly stand for change, than why aren’t they challenging Bush about the “success” of the surge, and telling the American people the TRUTH???
    If some finish carpenter and cabinet maker in Central California can discern the truth about this latest deception titled the “sucess of the surge”, are we to believe these so called “presidential hopefuls” can’t?
    When are these bastards going to stop lying to us?
    Here is a must read, where Nir Rosen tells you what these frauds like Hillary, Obama, and McCain are afraid to tell you……
    The Myth of the Surge
    Hoping to turn enemies into allies, U.S. forces are arming Iraqis who fought with the insurgents. But it’s already starting to backfire. A report from the front lines of the new Iraq
    It’s a cold, gray day in December, and I’m walking down Sixtieth Street in the Dora district of Baghdad, one of the most violent and fearsome of the city’s no-go zones. Devastated by five years of clashes between American forces, Shiite militias, Sunni resistance groups and Al Qaeda, much of Dora is now a ghost town. This is what “victory” looks like in a once upscale neighborhood of Iraq: Lakes of mud and sewage fill the streets. Mountains of trash stagnate in the pungent liquid. Most of the windows in the sand-colored homes are broken, and the wind blows through them, whistling eerily. House after house is deserted, bullet holes pockmarking their walls, their doors open and unguarded, many emptied of furniture. What few furnishings remain are covered by a thick layer of the fine dust that invades every space in Iraq. Looming over the homes are twelve-foot-high security walls built by the Americans to separate warring factions and confine people to their own neighborhood. Emptied and destroyed by civil war, walled off by President Bush’s much-heralded “surge,” Dora feels more like a desolate, post-apocalyptic maze of concrete tunnels than a living, inhabited neighborhood. Apart from our footsteps, there is complete silence.
    My guide, a thirty-one-year-old named Osama who grew up in Dora, points to shops he used to go to, now abandoned or destroyed: a barbershop, a hardware store. Since the U.S. occupation began, Osama has watched civil war turn the streets where he grew up into an ethnic killing field. After the fall of Saddam, the Americans allowed looters and gangs to take over the streets, and Iraqi security forces were stripped of their jobs. The Mahdi Army, the powerful Shiite paramilitary force led by the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, took advantage of the power shift to retaliate in areas such as Dora, where Shiites had been driven from their homes. Shiite forces tried to cleanse the district of Sunni families like Osama’s, burning or confiscating their homes and torturing or killing those who refused to leave.
    “The Mahdi Army was killing people here,” Osama says, pointing to a now-destroyed Shiite mosque that in earlier times had been a cafe and before that an office for Saddam’s Baath Party. Later, driving in the nearby district of Baya, Osama shows me a gas station. “They killed my uncle here. He didn’t accept to leave. Twenty guys came to his house, the women were screaming. He ran to the back, but they caught him, tortured him and killed him.” Under siege by Shiite militias and the U.S. military, who viewed Sunnis as Saddam supporters, and largely cut out of the Shiite-dominated government, many Sunnis joined the resistance. Others turned to Al Qaeda and other jihadists for protection.
    Now, in the midst of the surge, the Bush administration has done an about-face. Having lost the civil war, many Sunnis were suddenly desperate to switch sides — and Gen. David Petraeus was eager to oblige. The U.S. has not only added 30,000 more troops in Iraq — it has essentially bribed the opposition, arming the very Sunni militants who only months ago were waging deadly assaults on American forces. To engineer a fragile peace, the U.S. military has created and backed dozens of new Sunni militias, which now operate beyond the control of Iraq’s central government. The Americans call the units by a variety of euphemisms: Iraqi Security Volunteers (ISVs), neighborhood watch groups, Concerned Local Citizens, Critical Infrastructure Security. The militias prefer a simpler and more dramatic name: They call themselves Sahwa, or “the Awakening.”
    At least 80,000 men across Iraq are now employed by the Americans as ISVs. Nearly all are Sunnis, with the exception of a few thousand Shiites. Operating as a contractor, Osama runs 300 of these new militiamen, former resistance fighters whom the U.S. now counts as allies because they are cashing our checks. The Americans pay Osama once a month; he in turn provides his men with uniforms and pays them ten dollars a day to man checkpoints in the Dora district — a paltry sum even by Iraqi standards. A former contractor for KBR, Osama is now running an armed network on behalf of the United States government. “We use our own guns,” he tells me, expressing regret that his units have not been able to obtain the heavy-caliber machine guns brandished by other Sunni militias.
    The American forces responsible for overseeing “volunteer” militias like Osama’s have no illusions about their loyalty. “The only reason anything works or anybody deals with us is because we give them money,” says a young Army intelligence officer. The 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, which patrols Osama’s territory, is handing out $32 million to Iraqis in the district, including $6 million to build the towering walls that, in the words of one U.S. officer, serve only to “make Iraqis more divided than they already are.” In districts like Dora, the strategy of the surge seems simple: to buy off every Iraqi in sight. All told, the U.S. is now backing more than 600,000 Iraqi men in the security sector — more than half the number Saddam had at the height of his power. With the ISVs in place, the Americans are now arming both sides in the civil war. “Iraqi solutions for Iraqi problems,” as U.S. strategists like to say. David Kilcullen, the counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. Petraeus, calls it “balancing competing armed interest groups.”
    continues for five more pages at….


  15. Linda says:

    “Taxi to the Dark Side” won in an upset, and it is the most dark of the nominees, being about torture and our killing innocent people. It will be more widely seen, and I do hope as Gibney said in his speech that this country will again soon start to change and come back into the light.


  16. Jason says:

    No End in Sight is great. It’s a gripping, realist accounting of the poor decisions and missteps that were made before and during the first few years in Iraq. If you are a Netflix subscriber, you can watch it online for free. It may seem unappetizing to revisit that period in history, but you will be glad once you do.


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