DVD review – Taxi to the Dark Side (2007), Region 4, Madman

The title of this Academy Award winning documentary refers to the fate of an Afghan taxi driver who in 2002 died in the Bagman US detention centre as a result of the torture he endured. The death certificate stated that his death was homicide; the initial army report claimed he died of natural causes.

Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, the son of a former WWII Navy Interrogator, uses this incident to explore the “flexible approach to interrogating suspects” used by the US army in the Bagram, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo detention centres. It becomes clear that through a deliberate process of ambiguous directives, the upper echelons of the US government encouraged torture while ensuring that they could never be held accountable. The film also reveals that information gained from torture has long been considered useless and even dangerously misleading.

Taxi to the Dark Side contains a wealth of undisputed information that is barely touched by mainstream media due to a process of censorship by exclusion. This is probably not a DVD that you’d want to kick back with on a Friday night but you should make an effort to see it.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 315, 2008

© Thomas Caldwell, 2008