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Taxi To The Dark Side

Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Produced by STEPS International
Directed by Alex Gibney
DVD, color, 52 min.
College - Adult
Democracy, Political Science, Terrorism, 9/11

Reviewed by Malcolm L. Rigsby, Department of Sociology, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, AR

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
Date Entered: 1/30/2009

Is it ever right to lower standards of conduct simply because the enemy has failed to observe fair standards of war? Since 9-11, the Bush administration has faced charges of use of government-sanctioned torture of suspected terrorists. Some have called this “terrorism to combat terrorism”. It may be unfair to charge President Bush himself for approving torture of those arrested for terrorism.

This video exposes the viewer to the use of torture by the U. S. military to obtain prisoner confessions. This use of torture, including death, is a sobering rendition. A focal story is that of “Dilawar” who died in the Bagram Prison, Afghanistan. A closing comment is most sobering: “For these people who have been subjected to this treatment, if they were not terrorists or terrorist sympathizers before arrest they may well be now”.

Dilawar, a taxi driver on his way home with three paying fares is “detained” by U. S. military. Five days later, he was dead. In essence, his taxi ride was a trip to the dark side. Since his death, investigation concludes Dilawar was not involved in any wrongdoing charged by the military. The investigation of his death and similar atrocities make it clear that the U. S. has used wrongful and improper force and torture techniques in its claim to bring a “war on terror”.

Is it ever right for a society to lower moral standards of conduct with the enemy simply because the enemy has attacked the society? As the film depicts, some in our society may have done so, and in so doing may consider the use of torture to be fair play. This film leaves the viewer with many questions about war and terrorism. A major question that deals with basic human rights in a conflict is whether Geneva should apply to terrorists. How safe are all people when faced with those few that hold the power to determine life and freedom? We are posed with views of several key figures including Cheney, Yoo, Gonzalez and Rumsfeld. Perhaps a major question to ponder is who in the command of authority in such instances pays the price?


  • Best Documentary Feature Academy Awards, 2008
  • Winner, Best Documentary Tribeca Film Festival, 2007
  • Winner, Peabody Award, 2008