Edinburgh Film Festival Clip: Torture

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff met recently with President Obama. She awarded me a Certificate of Honor for “courageous and militant work and contribution to the struggle for rights, truth and justice in Brazil.” She praises me for my film “Brazil: A Report on Torture”.

The film shows that Dilma, as a young woman, was a victim of government sponsored torture.

Dilma, ask Obama about “enhanced interrogation” and whether there is good torture or bad torture depending on who does it and for what reason. Watch this clip.


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A Second Up to Date Addition to the LA Times Letter:


New York Times April 19th, 2015

Sale of U.S. Arms Fuels The Wars of Arab States – Boon to Defense Firms

Saudi Arabia is using F-15 fighter jets bought from Boeing. Pilots from the United Arab Emirates are using Lockheed Martin’s F-16 to bomb both Yemen and Syria. To complete another big deal General Dynamics is supplying a fleet of Predator drones to run spying missions. All this is resulting in a boom for American Defense contractors looking for foreign business.

For the full article, click here.

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1.5 Trillion Dollars



This is a letter to the Editor of the LA Times that didn’t make print:

Subject: The Pentagon’s $10 Billion Dollar Bet Gone Bad

The Pentagon hands arms merchants like Boeing and Raytheon no-bid contracts for exorbitant projects that don’t even work? This is another example of the dangers of the military-industrial complex: overpriced missile interceptors mothballed before a single test, gee-whiz lasers that can’t fire far enough to reach their target and oversize rockets too big to fit on ships.

The Times investigation could be the inspiration for a Monty Python script—if it weren’t so scary. President Dwight Eisenhower warned us against this formidable union of military contractors and the armed forces—one that robs the public and endangers public security. Sadly, the old scam of waving the flag and fleecing taxpayers seems alive and well.



The F-35 is destined to cost 1.5 trillion dollars over it’s development span. These articles explore just how bad one bet has become.

Business Insider: Here Are All the Problems With the F-35


Business Insider: Why the Pentagon is Spending So Unbelievably Much On the F-35




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The existence of a distorted but profound hunger for recognition of ones life can lead to murder and suicide. “If it bleeds it leads”. I welcome your comments on this clip.


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James Foley…

What was done to Jim Foley hit me deeply and personally. I can’t be sure whether the viewpoint I am presenting here comes too profoundly out of the video. I would appreciate comments.

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More Good Killing Bad Killing?


The jury is out on the trial of Chad Littlefield who killed sniper hero Chris Kyle.

The verdict of insanity rests on whether Chad knew right from wrong when he pulled the trigger. Do we question the sanity of decorated sniper Chris Kyle who is credited with personally killing 160 people he didn’t know, in a country half way around the world?

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Haskell on CIA Torture

Please see this nine minute film. I hope it makes you think about media deception and how there is absence of accountability for criminal acts by those in power.

Is it true that there are good tortures and bad tortures? Is it dependent on who does the act and on what stated purpose? Is it true there are good people who commit terrorist acts against designated “bad” people?

One thing is crystal clear, we, the U.S. are the “good” guys. They, because of who they are, are “bad”. The despicable killing act of terrorism – whether it is a suicide bomber with primitive explosives on his back, or a drone military man sending sophisticated missiles on a family meeting in another country, in both cases the act is a crime that is perpetuating us into a never ending violence.

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Good Killing and Bad Killing.



Here are the lines of Sean Penn, playing convicted murderer in Helen Pejean’s film “Dead Man Walking”. With some of his last words he addresses the parents of the victim:

“…l hope my death gives you some relief.

l just want to say…

…l think killing is wrong…

…no matter who does it.

Whether it’s me, or y’all,  or your government.”

I’m thinking about pinning a medal on a soldier who killed “a bad guy” in the Middle-East. I’m thinking of Ferguson and what distinguishes good killing from bad killing. It seems the way the system works that depends on who is doing the killing and who is “deserving to die.”

The way authority has dealt with racism is to consider the color of the skin as a signal that they are the “OTHER”. As such, they can be possible threats to the status quo. In fact the courts and law enforcement deal with it that way. This is equally true with the military, who by labeling the enemy Muslim or the “OTHER”, they automatically become a threat to the system.

Built into this perverse psychology is the idea of pre-emption, if they’re bad why wait until they do something bad to you? In Ferguson, the violence, as seen in the burning of some buildings is good for television and bad for a legitimate objection to a system that is not working for many, many people. Much of this violence can only be maintained by a government which keeps you in fear:

Muslims in the Middle-East threaten our security. So for a good cause we war on them. If boots on the ground is unpopular, we do have drones and trained and armed mercenaries.

Designated ‘bad guys’ say how they want to do bad things to us, so why wait?

The big story at Ferguson is that protesters are violent and will, if not controlled by militarized police, threaten the state. There is no question that this is a relationship of forces when you see National Guard, when you see police outfitted with full military gear. When Homeland Security is involved. The system now is over sensitive.

We better start dealing with some of the basic problems of our society. As for the voice of the people, it has to be expressed non-violently.

Killing is bad. Whether I do it, or you do it, or the government does it.

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Jim Foley Connection…

The parents of Peter Kassig, the latest American killed said; “James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Renning, remain in our daily thoughts and prayers and we pray for the safe return of all remaining captives held by all sides of the Syrian Civil War.” “All of them wanted, in some personal way to support a country where more than 9 million civilians have been forced out of their homes by a savage civil war.”

Our official U.S. answer is to escalate the killing, when it’s clear that more war only aggravates a genocidal condition devastating hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.

Read the Daily Telegraph article:


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Gate Keepers of Truth


Read Harry Belafonte’s speech to the Academy on receiving an Academy Humanitarian Award. Harry said how films were “early stimulus of my rebellion against human distortion and hate.”

Harry reminds us; “Artists are the gate-keepers of truth. They are civilization’s radical voice.”

We aspire to be artists.

“America has come a long way since Hollywood in 1915 gave the world the film Birth of a Nation. By all measure, this cinematic work was considered the greatest film ever made. The power of moving pictures to impact on human behavior was never more powerfully evidenced than when, after the release of this film, American citizens went on a murderous rampage. Races were set one against the other. Fire and violence erupted. Baseball bats and billy clubs bashed heads. Blood flowed in [the] streets of our cities, and lives were lost.The film also gained the distinction to be the first film ever screened at the White House. The then-presiding President Woodrow Wilson openly praised the film, and the power of this presidential anointing validated the film’s brutality and its grossly distorted view of history. This, too, further inflamed the nation’s racial divide.1935, at the age of 8, sitting in a Harlem theater, I watched in awe and wonder the incredible feats of the white superhero: Tarzan of the Apes. Tarzan was a sight to see. This porcelain Adonis, this white liberator, who could speak no language, swinging from tree to tree, saving Africa from the tragedy of destruction by a black indigenous population of inept, ignorant, void-of-any-skills population governed by ancient superstitions, with no heart for Christian charity.Through this film, the virus of racial inferiority, of never wanting to be identified with anything African, swept into the psyche of its youthful observers. And for the years that followed, Hollywood brought abundant opportunity for black children in their Harlem theaters to cheer Tarzan and boo Africans.Native Americans, our Indian brothers and sisters, fared no better. And at the moment, Arabs ain’t lookin’ so good.

But these encounters set other things in motion. It was an early stimulus to the beginning of my rebellion, a rebellion against injustice and human distortion and hate. How fortunate for me that the performing arts became the catalyst that fueled my desire for social change. In its pursuit, I came upon fellow artists, like the great actor and my hero, singer-humanist Paul Robeson, painter Charles White, dancer Katherine Dunham, [the] historian’s superior academic mind Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, social strategist and educator Eleanor Roosevelt, writers Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou and James Baldwin. They all inspired me. They excited me. Deeply influenced me. And they were also my moral compass.

It was Robeson who said, as you heard in the film earlier, ‘Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. They are civilization’s radical voice.’ This Robeson environment sounded like a desired place to be. And given the opportunity to dwell there has never disappointed me.For my like of activism and commitment to social change, the opposition has been fiercely punitive. Some who’ve controlled institutions of culture and commentary have at times used their power to not only distort truth, but to punish the truth-seekers. With interventions like McCarthyism and the blacklist, Hollywood, too, has sadly played its part in these tragic scenarios. And on occasion, I have been one of its targets.

However, from the cultural environment that gave us all this social drama and all those movies — Birth of a NationTarzan of the ApesSong of the South, to name but a few — today’s cultural harvest yields a sweeter fruit: Defiant Ones,Schindler’s ListBrokeback Mountain12 Years a Slave, and many more. And all of this happening at the dawning of technological creations that would give artists boundless regions of possibilities to give us deeper insights into human existence.How fortunate for me that I have lived long enough for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to have chosen to bestow this honor upon me. Tonight is no casual encounter for me. Along with the trophy of honor, there is another layer that gives this journey this kind of wonderful Hollywood ending. To be rewarded by my peers for my work for human rights and civil rights and for peace — well, let me put this way: It powerfully mutes the enemy’s thunder.Approaching 88 years of age, how truly poetic that as I joyfully glow with my fellow honorees, we should have in our midst as one of our celebrators a man who did so much in his own life to redirect the ship of racial hatred and American culture. His efforts made the journey a bit easier. Ladies and gentlemen, I refer to my friend — my elderly friend — Sidney Poitier.

I thank the Academy and its Board of Governors for this honor, for this recognition. I really wish I could be around for the rest of this century to see what Hollywood does with the rest of the century. Maybe, just maybe, it could be civilization’s game changer. After all, Paul Robeson said, ‘Artists are the radical voice of civilization.’ Each and every one of you in this room, with your gifts and your power and your skills, could perhaps change the way in which our global humanity mistrusts itself. Perhaps we as artists and as visionaries, for what’s better in the human heart and the human soul, could influence citizens everywhere in the world to see the better side of who and what we are as a species.I thank each and every one of you for this honor, and to my fellow honorees, I could have had no better company than to have shared this evening with each of you. Thank you very much.

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