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Doctors of the Dark Side

Davis, Martha; Kanopy (Firm)
Format
Video; Streaming Video; Online
Summary
Emmy Award winner THE GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB told the horrific story of abuse and torture at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Academy award-nominated film ZERO DARK THIRTY generated controversy for its portrayal of alleged torture of detainees in order to gain information important to the U.S regarding the location of Osama bin Laden. Now comes a new and more shocking part of the story you haven't heard before - the role American doctors had in the facilitation and enabling of detainee torture. Based on extensive research by producer/director Martha Davis, DOCTORS OF THE DARK SIDE is the first feature-length documentary that exposes the scandal behind the torture scandal - how American psychologists and physicians betrayed their oaths and actively facilitated and covered up the torture of detainees in U.S.-controlled military prisons in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and select CIA Black Sites. This little-known story is told by military, legal and medical experts, and portrayed through staged demonstrations of the doctors' role in the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) as spelled out in declassified government documents. Based on extensive research by producer/director Martha Davis, Doctors of the Dark Side is the first feature-length documentary that exposes the scandal behind the torture scandal - how American psychologists and physicians betrayed their oaths and actively facilitated and covered up the torture of detainees in U.S.-controlled military prisons in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and select CIA Black Sites. This little-known story is told by military, legal and medical experts, and portrayed through staged demonstrations of the doctors' role in the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) as spelled out in declassified government documents. Martha Davis is a clinical psychologist and retired Visiting Scholar at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, where she completed a study of behavioral cues to stress and deception in videotaped criminal confessions. The experience led her to do research on how psychologists and physicians assisted interrogations and became complicit in detainee torture post 9/11. She produced and directed her first documentary, Interrogation Psychologists, in 2008 and then spent four years investigating physician and psychologist involvement in the U.S. torture program in preparation for Doctors of the Dark Side. For this documentary she recruited an illustrious award-winning production team on the film that includes triple Oscar-winning writer, Mark Jonathan Harris (The Redwoods, Into The Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport and Long Way Home) and narrator, Mercedes Ruehl (Academy Award winner for The Fisher King). Filmed entirely in HD by multiple award-winning Director of Photography, Lisa Rinzler (Emmy award winner for The Soul of a Man and Independent Spirit Award winner for Three Seasons), Doctors of The Dark Side was an Official Selection at both the 2012 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and the 2012 United Nations Association Film Festival. In order to understand the severity and consequences of torture, you first have to understand the mission statement of the 1949 Geneva Convention, which placed basic limits on how war was to be waged, protecting civilians, wounded and sick combatants and prisoners of war. However, the experiences of American POWs in Korea led the U.S. to develop a program to train soldiers how to survive torture if captured. The program was called SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape). At the same time, the CIA supported secret research on how experimental drugs, induced comas and methods like sensory deprivation alter the mind. The CIA had few agents who were experts in legal methods of interrogating detainees. Two psychologists contracted by the CIA were among the first to introduce abusive interrogation techniques and both were experts in SERE survival training. They adapted the SERE torture regime for use on detainees. In government memos, enhanced interrogation techniques fall into three groups: 1) Physical assault (insult slaps, attention grasps, walling and waterboarding) 2) Induced physical stress (shackled stress positions, temperature extremes, restricted diet and confinement box) 3) Those that can psychologically debilitate the prisoner (sensory deprivation, extreme isolation, light and sound extremes, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivations, debilitating mind games). Released detainees are beginning to speak in public, but the doctors involved in torture are hidden and protected by the CIA and Department of Defense. To ensure the film's accuracy and credibility, nationally recognized experts were interviewed, as well as defense attorneys who have successfully defended their detainee clients. Among the interviewees: -Dr. Steven H. Miles - author of Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors-Raymond McGovern - former CIA Analyst-Leonard Rubenstein - Past President, Physicians For Human Rights-Allen Keller, MD - Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture-Eric Montalvo - U.S. Marine lawyer, Jawad defense team-Ramzi Kassem - Faculty, CUNY Law School-Stephen Xenakis, MD - retired Brigadier General-Nathaniel Raymond - Physicians for Human Rights Campaign Against Torture Dr. Steven H. Miles, author of Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors, said half the torture survivors report that they saw a doctor supervising their torture. The doctors keep those survivors alive that are supposed to stay alive. The doctors devised methods of torture such as shock, cold, isolation and physical stress that do not leave wounds that can be interpreted as evidence. The doctors use the bureaucracy of the modern state to conceal and/or falsify medical records and death certificates. To show the doctors' complicity without dwelling on the repulsive details of torture, the filmmakers staged what the doctors were ordered to do according to declassified CIA and Department of Justice memos. The demonstrations of the doctors' role in the enhanced interrogations followed government guidelines to the letter. They made the waterboard swing upward in an emergency and built the confinement box to CIA specifications. The isolation cage in the film is a replica of one photographed at Abu Ghraib. The set is an empty Brooklyn warehouse that looks like an abandoned CIA black site. Instructors recite the directions verbatim off and on camera, while the physician goes efficiently about his job: calibrating the level of torture to make sure the detainee isn't killed. These scenes are not meant to be realistic enactments of the torture of specific detainees. They are demonstrations of official orders to the doctors. The filmmakers envisioned them as clips from a training video for the doctors assigned to enhanced interrogations. BSCT (Behavioral Science Consultation Team) helped interrogators exploit the physical and emotional vulnerability of detainees. These doctors were pulled out of clinical services and thrust into the role of consultants without any experience with interrogation techniques. The number of doctors involved in detainee abuse is unquantifiable. Some intelligence and military officials protested the torture program. Some military doctors voiced their dissent ... and their careers were hurt. In contrast, the officers who conducted and developed the enhanced techniques programs remain protected. The CIA has provided James Mitchell, Ph.D. and Bruce Jessen, Ph.D. with a
Performers
Features: Mercedes Ruehl
Release Date
2011
Language
In: English
Notes
  • In Process Record.
  • Title from title frames.
Published
[San Francisco, California, USA] : Kanopy Streaming, 2016.
Recording Info
Originally produced by MVD Entertainment Group in 2011.
Publisher no.
1111730 Kanopy
Related Resources
Cover Image
Description
1 online resource (1 video file, approximately 74 minutes) : digital, .flv file, sound
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Technical Details
  • Staff View

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    a| Emmy Award winner THE GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB told the horrific story of abuse and torture at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Academy award-nominated film ZERO DARK THIRTY generated controversy for its portrayal of alleged torture of detainees in order to gain information important to the U.S regarding the location of Osama bin Laden. Now comes a new and more shocking part of the story you haven't heard before - the role American doctors had in the facilitation and enabling of detainee torture. Based on extensive research by producer/director Martha Davis, DOCTORS OF THE DARK SIDE is the first feature-length documentary that exposes the scandal behind the torture scandal - how American psychologists and physicians betrayed their oaths and actively facilitated and covered up the torture of detainees in U.S.-controlled military prisons in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and select CIA Black Sites. This little-known story is told by military, legal and medical experts, and portrayed through staged demonstrations of the doctors' role in the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) as spelled out in declassified government documents. Based on extensive research by producer/director Martha Davis, Doctors of the Dark Side is the first feature-length documentary that exposes the scandal behind the torture scandal - how American psychologists and physicians betrayed their oaths and actively facilitated and covered up the torture of detainees in U.S.-controlled military prisons in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and select CIA Black Sites. This little-known story is told by military, legal and medical experts, and portrayed through staged demonstrations of the doctors' role in the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) as spelled out in declassified government documents. Martha Davis is a clinical psychologist and retired Visiting Scholar at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, where she completed a study of behavioral cues to stress and deception in videotaped criminal confessions. The experience led her to do research on how psychologists and physicians assisted interrogations and became complicit in detainee torture post 9/11. She produced and directed her first documentary, Interrogation Psychologists, in 2008 and then spent four years investigating physician and psychologist involvement in the U.S. torture program in preparation for Doctors of the Dark Side. For this documentary she recruited an illustrious award-winning production team on the film that includes triple Oscar-winning writer, Mark Jonathan Harris (The Redwoods, Into The Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport and Long Way Home) and narrator, Mercedes Ruehl (Academy Award winner for The Fisher King). Filmed entirely in HD by multiple award-winning Director of Photography, Lisa Rinzler (Emmy award winner for The Soul of a Man and Independent Spirit Award winner for Three Seasons), Doctors of The Dark Side was an Official Selection at both the 2012 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and the 2012 United Nations Association Film Festival. In order to understand the severity and consequences of torture, you first have to understand the mission statement of the 1949 Geneva Convention, which placed basic limits on how war was to be waged, protecting civilians, wounded and sick combatants and prisoners of war. However, the experiences of American POWs in Korea led the U.S. to develop a program to train soldiers how to survive torture if captured. The program was called SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape). At the same time, the CIA supported secret research on how experimental drugs, induced comas and methods like sensory deprivation alter the mind. The CIA had few agents who were experts in legal methods of interrogating detainees. Two psychologists contracted by the CIA were among the first to introduce abusive interrogation techniques and both were experts in SERE survival training. They adapted the SERE torture regime for use on detainees. In government memos, enhanced interrogation techniques fall into three groups: 1) Physical assault (insult slaps, attention grasps, walling and waterboarding) 2) Induced physical stress (shackled stress positions, temperature extremes, restricted diet and confinement box) 3) Those that can psychologically debilitate the prisoner (sensory deprivation, extreme isolation, light and sound extremes, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivations, debilitating mind games). Released detainees are beginning to speak in public, but the doctors involved in torture are hidden and protected by the CIA and Department of Defense. To ensure the film's accuracy and credibility, nationally recognized experts were interviewed, as well as defense attorneys who have successfully defended their detainee clients. Among the interviewees: -Dr. Steven H. Miles - author of Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors-Raymond McGovern - former CIA Analyst-Leonard Rubenstein - Past President, Physicians For Human Rights-Allen Keller, MD - Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture-Eric Montalvo - U.S. Marine lawyer, Jawad defense team-Ramzi Kassem - Faculty, CUNY Law School-Stephen Xenakis, MD - retired Brigadier General-Nathaniel Raymond - Physicians for Human Rights Campaign Against Torture Dr. Steven H. Miles, author of Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors, said half the torture survivors report that they saw a doctor supervising their torture. The doctors keep those survivors alive that are supposed to stay alive. The doctors devised methods of torture such as shock, cold, isolation and physical stress that do not leave wounds that can be interpreted as evidence. The doctors use the bureaucracy of the modern state to conceal and/or falsify medical records and death certificates. To show the doctors' complicity without dwelling on the repulsive details of torture, the filmmakers staged what the doctors were ordered to do according to declassified CIA and Department of Justice memos. The demonstrations of the doctors' role in the enhanced interrogations followed government guidelines to the letter. They made the waterboard swing upward in an emergency and built the confinement box to CIA specifications. The isolation cage in the film is a replica of one photographed at Abu Ghraib. The set is an empty Brooklyn warehouse that looks like an abandoned CIA black site. Instructors recite the directions verbatim off and on camera, while the physician goes efficiently about his job: calibrating the level of torture to make sure the detainee isn't killed. These scenes are not meant to be realistic enactments of the torture of specific detainees. They are demonstrations of official orders to the doctors. The filmmakers envisioned them as clips from a training video for the doctors assigned to enhanced interrogations. BSCT (Behavioral Science Consultation Team) helped interrogators exploit the physical and emotional vulnerability of detainees. These doctors were pulled out of clinical services and thrust into the role of consultants without any experience with interrogation techniques. The number of doctors involved in detainee abuse is unquantifiable. Some intelligence and military officials protested the torture program. Some military doctors voiced their dissent ... and their careers were hurt. In contrast, the officers who conducted and developed the enhanced techniques programs remain protected. The CIA has provided James Mitchell, Ph.D. and Bruce Jessen, Ph.D. with a 5| million defense fund in case they are charged with torturing detainees. Filmmaker Davis communicated with numerous health care professionals about the issues. Many feel the integrity of the American health care professions has been undermined by the way doctors are used in the torture program. The film portrays efforts to get state licensing boards to hold the torture doctors accountable by revoking their licenses.
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    5| No complicit doctors have ever been disciplined or held accountable. The filmmaker believes many aspects of the torture program are still in operation and are showing up in prisons in the United States. The protest movement remains strong and promising. By the end of the film, the shame of complicit doctors is countered by the courage and endurance of the professionals who defend detainees and keep fighting government actions that endanger the lives of their clients, threaten their careers and paralyze due process.
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