EYE ON THE NETROOTS:
We are excited to announce a new department for the magazine:
, led by Nation contributor
. Dedicated to assessing how people use the Internet to affect public policy and organize political and social change, Net Movement will take a special interest in progressive innovations that can empower the disenfranchised, create and connect communities, inform public discourse and strengthen meaningful democracy. Melber has written about politics, activism and public policy for a variety of publications and websites. He is a contributing editor of the
Personal Democracy Forum
, which analyzes technology’s impact on democracy, and has been a featured speaker at
, the national netroots convention, where he served on the advisory committee of the first netroots debate for Democratic presidential candidates in 2007.
The “dark side” infamously referred to by Dick Cheney as a euphemism for torture has come into the light–the spotlight of the Oscars.
Taxi to the Dark Side
, directed and produced by
, was named Best Documentary of the year at the eightieth Academy Awards. Following the case of
–an Afghan taxi driver who was captured, tortured and murdered by American interrogators at Bagram in 2002–Taxi searingly documents the use of interrogation tactics like sleep deprivation and waterboarding. Dilawar’s ordeal, sadly, was a harbinger of things to come, as such techniques migrated to Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, with approval from the highest echelons of the White House.
But while palatable enough for Oscar accolades, Taxi has been deemed too controversial by the
, which had purchased rights to broadcast the film. Just before his Oscar win, Gibney was notified that Taxi “doesn’t fit into Discovery’s plans” and that the film’s content might damage Discovery’s public offering. Gibney responded by calling the move “tantamount to political censorship.” Fortunately,
has been only too happy to pick up the slack. Look for Taxi to the Dark Side in theaters nationwide (distributed by THINKFilm) and on HBO in September. BRETT STORY
The Pentagon scored a direct hit February 20 when it convinced journalists that the launch of a missile from a Navy Aegis-class cruiser was not an antisatellite weapon test–something the United States roundly condemned China for carrying out in January 2007–but rather a heroic mission to save the inhabitants of earth from flaming death. Few questioned the claim that the satellite posed a danger. None noted that the chances of any satellite hitting a human is about one in a million or that the odds of this satellite coming close enough to injure a human with noxious fumes is about one in a thousand. Or that any human would have to be a moron to have a flaming gas tank land nearby and then hang around long enough to breathe in enough fumes to cause damage.
Administration spinners won this one. But it might prove a Pyrrhic victory, says
, director of the
Center for Defense Information
. “This highlights the major problem plaguing our space policy for the past eight years,” says Hitchens, “a focus on the short-term gains rather than our long-term strategic interests.” After China’s test and now America’s, Russian officers may push to answer in kind. India might get in the race, having just launched two satellites last year and formed its first Aerospace Command. Japan might not be far behind; it launched a satellite this month and proposed a law allowing the government to use space for military purposes for the first time.