Alex Gibney: This Film is About the Corruption of the American Character and Corruption of the Rule of Law

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I interviewed award-winning documentary film maker Alex Gibney after a screening of his film, Taxi to the Dark Side.
His response is clear, but my question to him is not. Here is what I posed to him:

Steve Clemons: “Alex, this film seemed to be a lot about missing accountability — accountability in our system for very horrific acts, undermining norms of our democracy and not letting something stay hidden. That’s the way I’m reading it. Your thoughts?

Note that Gibney says he’s sending copies of the DVD to Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney and President Bush.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

23 comments on “Alex Gibney: This Film is About the Corruption of the American Character and Corruption of the Rule of Law

  1. pauline says:

    “Riiiiiiiiiiight”
    12/11/07
    The New York Times reports this morning that “Lawyers within the clandestine branch of the Central Intelligence Agency gave written approval in advance to the destruction in 2005 of hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting interrogations of two lieutenants from Al Qaeda, according to a former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the episode.”
    Call me skeptical.
    As Kevin Drum points out, “The White House had been in the loop for two years. The CIA had received letters from both the Justice Department and congressional leaders arguing that the tapes shouldn’t be destroyed. The CIA’s top lawyer had been involved for the entire time. And yet we’re supposed to believe that, in 2005, a mid-ranking agency lawyer suddenly decided the tapes could be destroyed and the head of the clandestine branch then gave the order to do so without anyone else being involved? Really? Does anyone actually believe this story?”
    I’m going to guess, every employee of News Corp., James Taranto, and John Hinderaker.
    Otherwise, no.
    It brings me back to this story from Ron Suskind of Bush personally getting involved in torture, as Andrew Sullivan put it at the time:
    Two things in particular stuck out for me. Suskind has CIA sources saying that, as part of the torture devised by Bush and Rumsfeld for Khalid Sheik Muhammed, Onepercent they threatened to harm his wife and children if he did not talk. KSM told the interrogators to go ahead and kill his family, if necessary. I find it telling that the president, in this instance, became the moral equivalent of a mafia boss, committing what is clearly a violation of the Geneva Conventions, even if his motives were good ones.
    We also know of Rumsfeld getting highly involved in interrogations where tortures occurred, such as at Abu Ghraib.
    If Bush and/or Rumsfeld were so intimately involved as to approve of specific tortures to be used against Al Qaeda figures, or others. There would seem to be a strong reason for them to dismiss evidence of their own handiwork.
    That some mid-level lawyer ALONE authorized the destruction of “hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting interrogations of two lieutenants from Al Qaeda” is beyond ridiculous.
    Which is why you wonder how much effort the media will put into it…beyond a couple days of headlines?
    see —
    http://firedoglake.com/2007/12/11/riiiiiiiiiiight/

    Reply

  2. pauline says:

    CIA throws away interrogation tapes?
    It seems this has been done before.
    web.archive.org/web/20040509021515/http://www.suntimes.com/output/terror/cst-nws-tape07.html

    Reply

  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “As a Disicple of Christ, it is absolutely sickening to me. What is happening to our nation right before our eyes?! The erradication of the constitution we hold so dear, that so many countless brave men and women have died for, this unprovoked mindless exercise in contiunal warmongering and fear tactics are so frightening.”
    “As a student of WWII history and especially of how it all came about in Germany…it is so scary to see what is happening with our society. Even our language is changing in order to mask the true identity of what our government does in our name. The question is always asked how could a civilized nation fall under the spell of ‘Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuerher!’? We smugly and convidently speak the words in answer to the question, in the form of the Sinclair Lewis book entitled from 1935, ‘It Can’t Happen Here’. Folks…wake up…it’s happening!”
    Geez Steve, if your commenters keep this up, you’re gonna have to open an Elephant Preserve.

    Reply

  4. Ray says:

    I just watched a couple of the YT vids included in this and the lead story that’s been posted.
    I want to see this film, but am so afraid of what I know I will see. The couragw, depth of conviction and seriousness of what I watched just in these several video postings here along with this weeks announced destruction of CIA ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ videos makes me ashamed to be an American.
    Those who’ve advocated the use of torture must be held accountable. It is absolutely amazing to me; reprehensibly shameful, that individuals who hold themselves as purveyors of American values, evangelicals of Christian faith, which they so vehemently and continuously spew, are in reality so dastardly hypocritical.
    To take oaths to uphold the constitution and then act in a way that violates that oath and blatantly flies in the face of humanity brings those who advocate these ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ to the lowly depths of equality with the fundamentalist terrorists. We are playing by their rules and into their hands by stooping to their level. As was pointed out, what better recruitment tool could we give? And yes indeed, the revenge factor we’re establishing here is long term…very long term.
    My God! We must come to our senses and realize that there are those in our midst…I’ve heard it, believe or not from people in a church setting; who say very publicly and vocally…’ah the only way you ever going to stop this whole thing is just blow them people off the face of the earth and be done with it.’ Yes, it is amazing that these wackos are the same people who carry the holier than thou, sanctity of life card around in their pocket, who sit in the pews, who sing the hymns, that smile as the children come in and out of the service, who advocate the erradication of the Muslim world and anyone else who doesn’t subscribe to their view. What on earth has happened to us?!
    As a Disicple of Christ, it is absolutely sickening to me. What is happening to our nation right before our eyes?! The erradication of the constitution we hold so dear, that so many countless brave men and women have died for, this unprovoked mindless exercise in contiunal warmongering and fear tactics are so frightening.
    As a student of WWII history and especially of how it all came about in Germany…it is so scary to see what is happening with our society. Even our language is changing in order to mask the true identity of what our government does in our name. The question is always asked how could a civilized nation fall under the spell of ‘Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuerher!’? We smugly and convidently speak the words in answer to the question, in the form of the Sinclair Lewis book entitled from 1935, ‘It Can’t Happen Here’. Folks…wake up…it’s happening!
    Are we witnessing the beginnings of the end of our country? Can we save ourselves from these hate mongers who sleep with visions of wide eyed evildoing Islamofascists (which by the way, everytime I hear that phrase I think it to be a slap in the face of those who defended this country from the ravages of Nazism). We’ve got to wake up and realize what the religious zealots and politicians who exploit that support, are doing to our reputation and the overall future of our nation!
    Thank God for those like Gibney, Wilkerson and others, and especially to Steve Clemons for keeping the masses informed about it all. If we are ever to be able to move on from this disastrous and regrettable time period in our history, bind of the wounds and move back into the position of a nation of justice, values, character and respect for our fellow man then we must continue to bring into the light of day those who have and continue to stain our nation with the infectious disease of using religion and hate to advocate for war. Whatever you religion or no religion, pray to whoever you pray to, that this nation comes to it’s senses before it’s too late.
    ‘We hold these truths self-evident, that all men are created equal’, will by God it’s high time we show that we mean it! It’s time to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk!

    Reply

  5. easy e says:

    Here we go………..
    ***IRAN DROPS THE DOLLAR***
    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/12/08/iran-drops-the-dollar/
    ***JUST 18% OF AMERICANS THINK IRAN HAS DROPPED ITS NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM***
    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/12/08/18-percent-2/

    Reply

  6. easy e says:

    Here we go………..
    ***IRAN DROPS THE DOLLAR***
    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/12/08/iran-drops-the-dollar/
    ***JUST 18% OF AMERICANS THINK IRAN HAS DROPPED ITS NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM***
    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/12/08/18-percent-2/

    Reply

  7. linda says:

    seriously, what is the point of sending copies to the axis of war criminals — cheney/rumsfeld/bush. don’t you think they have their own original source collection, nicely catalogued and packaged that they view repeatedly. esp bush — as he fondles saddam’s pistol.
    these monstrously amoral psychopaths need to be sitting on the dock in the hague; not in the most powerful positions on the planet.

    Reply

  8. Kathleen says:

    Satirical Political Report has pictue of George Tenet with the caption “When I said slam dunk,` I meant my head being held under water.”
    The CIA Tspes are not destroyed, guys. Dopey and Darth have them in th

    Reply

  9. Kathleen says:

    Satirical Politcal Report has a picture of George Tenet with the caption, “When I said Slam dunk, I meant my head being held under water,” As long as he doesn’t go to the same hospital as Martha Mitchel and William Casey.
    The CIA Tapes are not destroyed or lost. Dopey and Darth have them in their private library. They call up Jeff Gannon after the girls go off to Chippendale’s. Remember Laura’s stand up routine at the WH Press dinner, about Chippendale’s and Lyne Cheney’s nickname being
    “Dollar Bill”? There are probably bootleg copies being sold for mega bucks as a fundraiser for NeoNutzis.
    Of course Cindy Sheehan couldn’t be invited in for tea, down at Crawback Mountain.

    Reply

  10. Carroll says:

    Dedicated to POA…
    And to…the Corruption of American character and Law and Government.
    From a link by Glen Greenwald to a highly revealing interview given by Sen. Rockefeller earlier this year.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Amazing Statement Of Congressional Impotence By Senate Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller
    Charles Davis, a freelance reporter, briefly interviewed Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) last Wednesday. Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, made this startling statement about how the U.S. government really functions:
    ROCKEFELLER: Don’t you understand the way Intelligence works? Do you think that because I’m Chairman of the Intelligence Committee that I just say I want it, and they give it to me? They control it. All of it. All of it. All the time. I only get, and my committee only gets, what they want to give me.
    Below is the background to what they were talking about—which is truly a matter of war and peace and life and death for millions of people. Included is a transcript of the entire Davis/Rockefeller exchange.
    • • •
    Last month Seymour Hersh reported this:
    In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda…
    The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process…
    American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence and, according to a Pentagon consultant on terrorism and the former senior intelligence official, have also crossed the border in pursuit of Iranian operatives from Iraq.
    More recently, ABC reported the U.S. has “secretly encouraged and advised” an organization of Pakistanis operating inside Iran called Jundullah. Jundullah has “taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials.” According to one of the experts quoted by ABC, Jundullah has been “executing them on camera.” However:
    U.S. officials say the U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or “finding” as well as congressional oversight.
    Tribal sources tell ABC News that money for Jundullah is funneled to its youthful leader, Abd el Malik Regi, through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states.
    You’d think—as Tom Engelhardt has written—that this screams out for further investigation. After all, this kind of activity could easily lead to war with Iran by accident. It could also easily lead to war on purpose: recall that Bush gave the CIA the go ahead to plan attacks within Iraq in order to create a pretext for war there. And Hersh quotes Flynt Leverett, formerly part of Bush’s National Security Council staff, as saying “The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”
    Yet there’s been essentially no follow up from the elite US media. It took Charles Davis, who apparently graduated from college less than a year ago, to ask the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee the most basic questions imaginable. Davis has written an article about this for LewRockwell.com. And here’s his exchange with Rockefeller in its entirety, which is worth listening to to hear Rockefeller’s tone of voice and moments of hesitation:
    DAVIS: I wonder if you’ve heard some of these news reports that the Bush administration is backing extremist groups in Pakistan to launch attacks against Iran? Are you familiar with those news reports?
    ROCKEFELLER: I’ve seen no intelligence that would verify that.
    DAVIS: Reports quote administration officials as saying this is going on and it’s being done in a way to avoid oversight of the Intelligence Committee. Is there any way—
    ROCKEFELLER: They’ll go to any lengths to do that, as we’ve seen in the last two days [during hearings on FISA].
    DAVIS: Is there anything you could do in your position as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee to find answers about this, if it is in fact going on?
    ROCKEFELLER: Don’t you understand the way Intelligence works? Do you think that because I’m Chairman of the Intelligence Committee that I just say I want it, and they give it to me? They control it. All of it. All of it. All the time. I only get, and my committee only gets, what they want to give me.
    DAVIS: Is there any way someone, maybe not you, they can somehow press the administration to find something—if they’re doing something that may be illegal—
    ROCKEFELLER: I don’t know that. I don’t know that. I deal with Intelligence. That’s it. They tend to avoid us.
    DAVIS: Well, what do you think about these allegations?
    ROCKEFELLER: I’m not—I don’t comment on allegations. I can’t. I can’t afford to.
    DAVIS: Okay. Thank you.
    It’s clear Jay Rockefeller isn’t going to be an inspiring leader on this. If you’re Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee (and have a personal net worth of at least $82 million), it’s not actually the case there’s nothing you can do when the government of the United States is running secret operations all over the Middle East that may blow up into a massive new war. (Of course, you might believe that’s the case, if like most Democratic politicians you’ve trained yourself into learned helplessness.)
    Certainly the only way Rockefeller and people like him will act is if they receive enough encouragement and pressure. That’s not going to come from anyone in our unbelievably decadent political class—they’re all too busy in the vomitorium. But it could come from regular people, if we get our act together.””
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Rockfeller,like others, can’t afford to do this for the public and the country? Why? Because he would be kicked out of the political Omertà club?

    Reply

  11. Kathleen says:

    POA…. belated blitzes of abhorance…. love that…

    Reply

  12. Carroll says:

    CIA Directorate of Operations division chief Jose Rodriguez made decision to destroy interrogation tapes without authorization from CIA general counsel or director Goss? So reports the NYT today:
    Mr. Rodriguez retired from the agency this year.
    >>>>>>>>>
    I guess we won’t know if Rodriguez is the main culprit or the latest scapegoat ….but WHEN are criminal charges and appropiate punishment going to replace resignations, cushy retirements and pardons for our political criminal class? Ever?
    Quit a scam our politicans have been practicing these many decades…..investigate, investigate,investigate everything up to, but never including themselves.
    But never actually “fix” the root causes or close the loopholes so they can continue to investigate,investigate, investigate.
    Continuing to suceed by constantly and deliberatley failing…decade after decade after decade.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Any rational citizen of even less than moderate intelligence should not be viewing Harman or Pelosi, or Reid, etc., as “oppositional” to these criminal monsters in our White House.
    This film, albiet undoubtedly eye opening, does not come to us bearing any revelations or snippets of unknown history. And why should it come as a suprise that the CIA has concealed torture by destroying these tapes? The tapes destruction came immediately on the heels of public disclosure of renditions. Have we not known all along that our intelligence agencies are torturing, and even murdering, prisoners in their custody?? So now these pathetic mewling cowards in the Democratic ranks are sniveling about the destruction of tapes that reveal behaviour that was long ago revealed? Posturing for the elections, nothing more. If this had to do with respect for humane treatment of prisoners, or adherance to international law, then criminal charges would have been pursued against this Administration LONG AGO.
    Today, it is reasonable, logical, and an application of simple common sense to assume that people are being horribly tortured by agents of the United States of America. It is just as reasonable to assume that no one will be held accountable, the practice will continue, and that American’s can expect the same treatment should they suffer the misfortune of finding themselves in disfavor with their own government, or even suspected of terrorist acts, sympathies, or affiliations. The old canard of “it can’t happen here” no longer applies, in no small part due to the utter and complete political cowardice of the key players in the Democratic party.

    Reply

  14. Carroll says:

    Posted by pauline at December 8, 2007 06:48
    “A leading Democrat is told that the CIA is destroying evidence of its own war crimes and says and does nothing?”
    She took no steps — no press conferences, no investigations, no demands for a criminal referral, no court action — to impede this destruction-of-evidence plan in any way,” wrote Greenwald.
    Harman said…Too much is classified. But I signed an oath as a member of Congress, and an additional oath as a member of the Intelligence Committee, to abide by the law and I do..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Abiding by the law?
    Which law?
    The laws politican’s make for themselves or the laws of the nation?
    That is a pitful excuse by Harman, but so typical of the whole political class.
    They think “they” are the law and are the nation.
    In the US military a solider is obligated to “refuse” to carry out a order from a superior that involves any acts that are illegal under US or international law. If he doesn’t he can be charged along with the superior that gave the order.
    You really have to question the I.Q.’s, if not the motives, of the Harman’s who think they can use a internal congressional law to ignore the higher US Laws.
    This is why congress should be overseen and monitored by a board of citizens, not by themselves.

    Reply

  15. Frank says:

    The one big question that should be bandied about these days during cocktail hours in Washington D.C is who has done more to trash the constitution, Bush or Pelosi?
    The parsing of “it is only a god damned piece of paper” and “impeachment is off the table” is a shameful exercise after seven years of an historic scope of criminal unaccountability.

    Reply

  16. pauline says:

    Harman: I told CIA not to destroy tapes
    Katie Baker
    Friday December 7, 2007
    Rep. Jane Harman said in an interview with MSNBC on Friday that she told the CIA not to destroy videotapes of the interrogation of Al Qaeda terrorist suspects.
    “My view then and my view now is it was a bad idea to consider destroying any tapes, and it was a very bad idea to do it,” said California Democrat Harman, who is the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee on Intelligence and Terrorism Risk Assessment. Harman said she wrote a “classified” letter to the CIA telling them of her opinion when she learned of the existence of these videotapes in 2003.
    Harman said that she is unsure if the tapes were truly destroyed in order to protect identities, as CIA director Mike Hayden asserted in a letter he wrote yesterday to his employees.
    “He wasn’t the guy who made the call,” Harman said, adding that she finds it “quite incredible” that Porter Goss, the CIA director in 2005, alleges that he had no idea that the tapes were destroyed.
    “This is a big deal,” Harman said. “If I were running the CIA, I would want to be told that some critical evidence was being destroyed.”
    When asked if there should be an investigation into whether a cover-up took place, Harman said that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees should “demand all the facts.” Pressed further, she admitted that “it looks very bad.”
    Harman has been barraged with criticism for not preventing the destruction of the tapes.
    “What the hell was Jane Harman doing?” wrote prominent blogger Andrew Sullivan on Friday, in an entry entitled, “Pusillanimous Harman.” Sullivan called Harman’s actions “pathetic,” and wondered how she could have stayed silent: “A leading Democrat is told that the CIA is destroying evidence of its own war crimes and says and does nothing?”
    Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com also criticized Harman for confining her objections to “private expressions of ‘concern’ to the CIA.”
    “She took no steps — no press conferences, no investigations, no demands for a criminal referral, no court action — to impede this destruction-of-evidence plan in any way,” wrote Greenwald.
    Harman said classification laws prevented her from taking any course of action.
    ?Too much is classified. But I signed an oath as a member of Congress, and an additional oath as a member of the Intelligence Committee, to abide by the law and I do,? Harman said. ?This was a highly classified intelligence briefing. That was the deal. I could not talk to anyone and I didn?t.?
    see —
    http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Harman_I_told_CIA_not_to_1207.html

    Reply

  17. liz says:

    Hey Steve, thanks for saying ” thanks for your help” to this man. And thanks for your personal help too.
    We do need to fix what is broken and very very soon. I am one of the lives destroyed under BushCo.
    You know, America’s image has been ruined globally but nowhere more acutely than right here at home. There is no such thing as CIVIL RIGHTS anymore either……
    something else to fix

    Reply

  18. Odette M G says:

    They should all be impeach but because the democrats, we put in power are more interest of winning the next election than stopping a mad leader. These fools still past and giving this mad man more power. I am afraid of what this administration will do next more than having another attack in the USA. They let it happened. They were all flying personal plane just before 9/11 happened. I want them out before there time is over. I agree with Keith Olberman that they are dangerous to the USA http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/12/06/countdown-special-comment-the-nie-reflects-an-unhinged-irrational-chicken-little-of-a-president/

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    These belated blitzes of abhorance for the actions of this Administration do NOTHING towards advancing accountability, unfortunately.
    However, they do serve to remind us of the past escapes from accountablity that these satanical monsters are so adept at performing. For instance, what ever happened to the second round of Abu Ghraib photographs that were court ordered to be released? Just like “Phase Two”, they seem to have dissappeared into the black hole that occupies the space our “checks and balances” used to reside in.
    Perhaps, after viewing this film, Steve is just a bit closer to understanding why some of us view the social scene in Washington as being more than a bit obscene, and have very little patience for social pretensions when such abominational acts are being committed in America’s name. And it isn’t an anger at Steve personally, but more a deep seated shame at how far we’ve sunken, and how cavalierly the debasement of our basic tenets has been treated by America’s power brokers and Washington elite.

    Reply

  20. Linda says:

    The film’s web site says it will be in theaters next month. It’s opening in NYC on 1/11 and in LA on 1/18. I don’t see anything about when it will open nationwide, and distribution probably will be limited to larger cities, college towns, art theaters.

    Reply

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