Posted by CODEPINK Staff
CODEPINK interview with filmmaker Sebastian Doggart: Accountability, Obama, Condoleezza Rice & Taking Action!
By Nancy Mancias
Sebastian Doggart is an independent filmmaker and director of the documentary American Faust: From Condi to Neo-Condi
Why is it important to hold our elected officials accountable?
We have a rule of law for our society and when our elected leaders disobey the law, the fabric of our society is undermined. From torture to the destruction of video evidence of that torture, from kidnappings to lying to the world about the reasons for war, the top levels of the Bush administration desecrated the rule of law, but have still to be held accountable.
Condoleezza Rice was a principal agent in the Bush Administration. It is thus grotesque to see her walking free, playing on NBC’s “30 Rock”, a comedy. She is a war criminal and torturer. She has desecrated many of the values that America stands for in the world, and severely damaged the country's reputation abroad, endangering our troops and civilians in the process. As General David Petraeus, Republican hero and the former leader of U.S. Central Command, put it: “We end up paying a price for [torture and other war crimes]. Situations like that are non biodegradable. They don't go away. The enemy continues to beat you with them like a stick.”
Sadly, President Obama is continuing the practices of the Bush administration. He made a promise to scale back our military involvement, and our abuse of the rule of law. He has failed to keep that promise. He has escalated the military presence in Afghanistan. With no congressional approval our military is now engaged in two new countries -- Libya and Yemen. The pull-out from Afghanistan that he promised is happening far more slowly than he promised, and the expectation of most military experts is that US troops will never leave either Afghanistan or Iraq. He uses drones to carry out extra-judicial killings in Pakistan, a country we’re not even at war with. Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece “The Predator War” shows that Obama makes the ultimate decision. We are now seeing that his unveiled contempt for the Pakistani security forces, is straining the key US-Pakistan relationship to breaking point. Jane Mayer and Seymour Hersch are two journalists holding politicians accountable. Not Congress and not the American people. Why is it that CODEPINK and World Can’t Wait are the only groups publicly demonstrating to hold politicians accountable? Where are the 21st century Kent State students who inspired the world in the 1970s? Where is the American Tahrir Square, demanding that our leaders be held accountable when they commit crimes?
What do you think President Obama should do about Guantanamo?
He reneged on a very explicit promise, made during his campaign and repeated when he first took office, to close Guantanamo by February 2009. He has tried to whitewash crimes with his mantra that "we need to look forward and not backwards’. You can’t turn the page of history until you've read it. That's why he should have ordered his Attorney General, Eric Holder, to conduct a thorough investigation into human rights abuses about which the entire world was aware. Guantanamo is a massive mess and Obama shouldn’t have made the promise to close it. He's a lawyer so was aware of the legal problems of guaranteeing the inmates a fair trial after many of them had been tortured. So his plea of naivety that he couldn't have foreseen the legal hurdles does not hold water. He clearly exploited the American people's desire for hope and change, and misled us in the process.
There now clearly needs to be speedy trials with detainees either moved to prisons on U.S. soil, or released.
Let’s talk about Condoleezza Rice, what do think she has up her sleeve?
First, I think Jon Stewart of the Daily Show gave her a deliberate pass, but I spoke to one of the writers on the show who said he did that on purpose because next time she’s on as a guest, speaking about her forthcoming book about her time in office, he’s going to ask her the tough questions.
Rice is a strategic planner. Since leaving office, she has kept a deliberately low profile. She teaches at Stanford University in California where the student group Stanford Says Not To War is circulating a petition asking to expel her.
Her ambition is boundless. I believe her plan may be to rebrand herself as a vice presidential candidate for 2016. She’s making a lot of money, bringing in six figures from each speaking engagement. She’s hoping that we're the United States of Amnesia, and that we're going to forget. I spent 4 years investigating her and feel a responsibility to ensure that the facts about her war crimes, especially her complicity in torture, remain in the public domain. We all have to work to hold her accountable for her crimes.
What’s next for you?
I've directed a romantic comedy called True Bromance and work as a cameraman on documentaries, and a journalist for The Telegraph. I continue work on the Condoleezza Rice accountability project through American Faust: From Condi to Neo-Condi.
What would be your suggestion to activists reading this blog who would like to take action?
Whenever Condoleezza Rice has a speaking engagement, call up the organizers directly and say they’re complicit in aiding a war criminal. Also, organize peaceful protests outside her events and make a citizens’ arrest. Make contact with foreign human rights organizations when she travels abroad so that, like Kissinger and Rumsfeld, she is discouraged from traveling abroad. Start that process by peacefully disrupting her upcoming trip to London to commemorate the Reagan centenary.
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