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An open letter to Karen Hughes
By Sidney Blumenthal
Oct. 11, 2007 | Karen Hughes
Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St. NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Karen Hughes:
You may recall that we met briefly in January 2001, during the transition to the Bush administration, when you dropped by my office in the White House. You were filled with enthusiasm and I wished you good luck. Now I am writing you as the executive producer of a documentary, "Taxi to the Dark Side" (directed by Alex Gibney), to invite you to a private preview in Washington on Oct. 18. The film has been described by the New York Times as "a meticulous examination of American policy on the interrogation of prisoners. It traces the scandals at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere to official changes of policy originating in the vice president's office and approved by the secretary of defense. We see documents listing approved methods of interrogation, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning."
The film includes interviews with military interrogators, victims and families of those tortured, and with members of the Bush administration who opposed the policy, such as former general counsel of the Navy Alberto Mora and Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"Taxi to the Dark Side" has won the prizes for best documentary at the Tribeca, Newport and Ojai film festivals, will be aired this month on major television channels throughout Europe, is being shown next week by special request at the European Union's annual ministerial meeting, and will be distributed commercially by Think Films in theaters throughout the U.S. and Europe in January 2008, after which it will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel. The Times calls "Taxi" devastating." The Guardian of London says its documentation is "irrefutable."
One Defense Department official, believing the administration policy on detainees and torture to be illegal and counterproductive, told me that in his and others' efforts to reverse it they approached you as a last hope. After all, you have virtually unrestricted access to the president. But he recounted that you rebuffed them, and described your attitude as dismissive.
Your complicity in the torture policy is one reason that I am writing you. Despite the futility of those inside the administration in bringing the problem to you, you still remain in place to redress it. As the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, responsible for defending America's reputation in the world, you must engage the issue that has most seriously damaged our image. Your obligation will continue so long as you hold your post. Those who care about the good name of the United States will not cease viewing you as a last resort, even if you disdain or ignore them, because they cling to the desperate hope that a nagging conscience or its sudden awakening will compel you actually to do your job.
http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal ... print.html