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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Bias and "Taxi to the Dark Side"

Continuing the discussion about "Taxi to the Dark Side," which won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature

From BP Odum, Copperas Cove, TX:

Captain Bruce [see previous letter, "'Taxi' and torture: You tell me"] takes Mr Ebert to task for bias, partisanship, and being an apologist when it comes to the issue of abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Captain Bruce is an honorable man. He is an Army intelligence officer with personal experience of: detainees and cases of detainee abuse; combat patrols with interrogators; and working hand-in-hand with interrogators in a tightly controlled environment. So Captain Bruce has the utmost respect for intelligence officers and soldiers. One might say that this is the very definition of bias, yet the Captain is an honorable man.

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And Captain Bruce says he has "not once witnessed something immoral, unjust, or unlawful on behalf of an Army Interrogator." The implication is that we should extrapolate from this one officer's experience, given all the information that has come to light regarding Army interrogations, to the conclusion that there has been little or no detainee abuse on the part of Army interrogators. And the Captain is surely an honorable man.

Finally, the Captain claims that "without putting on a vest of armor and seeing our soldiers in action" one has no credibility to criticize anything that goes on with the military in Iraq or Afghanistan. For our Captain, only soldiers are allowed to oversee the actions of other soldiers. Self-oversight is the Captain's cure for bias. Moreover, the good Captain's suggestion implies that neither the current President nor Vice-President nor former or current Secretaries of Defense nor Secretary of State is credible when they speak of military events in Iraq or Afghanistan. That is indeed a perspicacious observation. And the Captain is certainly an honorable man.

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