Archive for War On Terror

Warring Factions

Wanted to give everyone a heads-up about an interesting new film called “Warring Factions” set to be released soon. The documentary explores the cultural misperceptions that exist between Iranians and Americans, and how break-dance can help overcome barriers to mutual understanding and tolerance. Filmmaker Jassem Mashouf takes us to Iran for a break-dance competition and offers us a window into this often misunderstood part of the world. He talks to both Americans and Iranians to get their views of the “other” and addresses the meaning of his own identities in the process. The film is important in that it shows how state propaganda, whether it be here or there, can lead to dangerous assumptions and stereotypes and how art can serve as a powerful antidote to hate.

In one scene, there is a reenactment of his detainment by two Homeland Security officials, which causes him to miss his connecting flight to the U.S. He is subjected to a frustrating barrage of questions, an excerpt of which I have posted below. Mashouf says the experience inspires “his moment of clarity regarding the role of the individual in improving the world.” Amen.

Although there is no official release date yet, spread the word and keep an eye out for the film. If you want to schedule a screening in your community, contact the director. At a time when potential conflict with Iran seems inevitable, Mashouf’s experiment in intercultural dialogue is definitely worth checking out.

Excerpt of interrogation:

-“Who is Alexander Kluge?”
-“Alexander Kluge. We found his name in your things.”
-“Where in my things?”
-“In your notebook. Who is he?” He said this while showing me the copy of the pages in my notebook.“
-You see, I’m a filmmaker and I use that notebook to write down ideas. So anything you see in there might not make any sense to you. Alexander Kluge is the name of a filmmaker that one of my professors recommended.”
-“Ok. But now you see how this is going to work.”
-“This is going to take forever,” I whined.
-“What is ‘Reenact a martyr video’?”
-Oh God. That doesn’t look good I thought. I started to explain the entry in my note book.
-“That was an idea for the film that I scrapped. Do you know what a martyr video is?”
-“No,” he said, waiting to see how I was going to get myself out of this.


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Former Chief Prosecutor Testifies on Behalf of Terror Suspect

Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, testified this week on behalf of Guantanamo detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan. Since quitting his post late last year, Davis has come out against the military commissions he helped Congress to set up. After his experience as a Guantanamo prosecutor, he concluded that fair trials are impossible because the system had become deeply politicized by the Pentagon. He claims that the Pentagon did not trust the military to run the tribunals and instead relied on political appointees who seemed more intent on outcomes rather than justice. In an NPR interview, Davis talked about the political pressure he experienced as a prosecutor, specifically in regards to evidence obtained through the use of torture.

What I told the Court, for attorneys under our ethical rules, a prosecutor is not allowed to offer any evidence in court that was obtained by illegal means. In the case of water boarding, recently you’ve had the Director of the CIA, the Attorney General, the former Director of the FBI and other senior officials… that have said that in their view, waterboarding constitutes torture. My policy for two years had been we were not going to offer any evidence obtained by waterboarding. When he [former Brigadier General Thomas Hartman] came in, he said, “What makes you think you have the authority to make those kinds of decisions?” Ethically, I think it’s putting the prosecutors in a bind to force them into court to offer evidence that there seems to be fairly unanimous agreement, was obtained by torture.

(Former Brigadier General Thomas Hartman was the person in charge of the military commissions.)

Despite testifying on behalf of the terror suspect, Davis said in the same interview that he remains convinced of Hamdan’s guilt:

I’ve reviewed the evidence, personally approved the charges on him. There’s little doubt in my mind of his guilt. But he’s entitled to a fair trial…a full, fair and open proceeding and this current process in my view, they call it military justice, in my view it’s neither military nor justice… .I think what I’m advocating for, and I think a lot of other people…is that he’s entitled to a fair trial. And as I’ve said, I’ve reviewed the evidence and I think there is ample evidence to prove his guilt, and i think he ought to be held accountable. But it ought to be in a system of justice that we can be proud of and not ashamed of.

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