No wonder people hate the United States
Vail, CO, Colorado
How amazing it is ” the power of suspicion. Pair it with the burning need to find a scapegoat whenever there’s a big explosion, followed by several people left dead and you’ve got full-blown terror.
But wait, . aren’t we supposed to be putting an end to that? One can’t help but wonder how many people walk away from “Rendition” thinking, “How stupid. Of course the United States doesn’t torture people.”
Um, there are some real-life cases and accusations that suggest otherwise. Yeah, so maybe some people think of loved ones killed in Sept. 11 or other terrorist attacks and, in fits of pain and anguish, envision vindication scenarios replete with Osama Bin Laden and cohorts strapped to electric shock devices and worse. But really, how often do we, in our rage, our pride, our sense of territory, self-protection and fierce self-preservation stop to think long and hard about, … hold it. Are we sure we have the right guy?
“Rendition” paints a stark picture of what this question would look like if it were naked, shackled and dangling from a torture chamber. The all-star cast proves in a series of non-glamorous parts why we’ve chosen to describe these actors as stars. Jake Gyllenhaal is the hero. Meryl Streep is the evil monger (and wow, … she is getting really, really good at being a B–ch). And Reese Witherspoon is the very pregnant, concerned wife.
The story begins with a familiar, quiet American suburb, where Isabella (Witherspoon) is kicking a soccer ball with her son while chatting on the phone with her husband, Anwar (Omar Metwally), who is on his way home from a business trip in South Africa. Meanwhile, some American CIA agents, including Douglas Freeman (Gyllenhaal) are stuck in traffic in a nameless village in “North Africa” (as the on-screen print vaguely informs us), watching motorists argue and camels blocking the road. Suddenly a waiter gets shot, another man gets shot, a bomb goes off and dozens of people get killed.
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Since the head CIA guy bleeds to death, Freeman is left with the task of figuring out who is responsible for the explosion. He takes orders from FBI vixen Corrine Whitman (Streep). An Egyptian terrorist group is cited. The Egyptian government official ” the apparent target of the bombing ” partners up with Freeman to begin interrogations. Who should become their main suspect but Metwally.
Sure, he’s married to an American woman, having moved to the States when he was 14. Sure, he is an upstanding citizen and engineer with no criminal record who coaches his six-year-old’s soccer team. But hey, he’s Egyptian, he was in South Africa when the bomb went off in North Africa and he talks to people ” his family, namely ” who are ALSO Egyptian. Somehow calls are traced, believed to be from someone affiliated with the Egyptian terrorist group, to Metwally’s cell phone. Bam!
Obviously, the man should be hauled back to Africa, stripped naked, thrown in a hole and repeatedly questioned and tortured until he comes up with a better answer than, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
This film might feel like nothing more than heavy, somber drama if it weren’t for the reality of “Rendition.” This is the name of the covert program launched by Bill Clinton’s National Security Council in an effort to nab terrorist suspects. The program mandates that suspects are isolated, captured and taken away for questioning in places like Egypt, Jordan and Syria, where laws are rather loose when it comes to methods such as torture. When the program began, it targeted individuals with outstanding criminal records for whom hard evidence could be produced to support their affiliation with terrorists. After Sept. 11 the program, under the Bush administration, got out of hand. Like Metwally, a person could be merely suspected of knowing someone who knew someone whose brother’s neighbor’s mother’s dog had something to do with a terrorist group, and be flown away to rendition.
Take, for example, the real-life case of Kuwait-born, German citizen Khaled el-Masri, who was allegedly swiped off of a bus while vacationing in Macedonia. He claims his captors, some of whom were American, cut off his clothes, took him to a dirty prison in Afghanistan where he was interrogated and beaten and kept for five months until he was released without a word on the streets of Albania to make his way home. His case was sadly denied trial by the Supreme Court just this month.
Nobody, save some er, special people, really know what the CIA is up to. The possibilities naturally beg the question, “Does the United States torture people?”
Well, the answer, according to “Rendition,” is no. but, the U.S. does facilitate, watch and take notes as other countries do the dirty work. And, like any outsourcing project, secret or otherwise, mis-communications and mistakes are bound to be plentiful in an operation like this. And it’s not just an important Power Point presentation at stake. Watch this movie. If nothing else, it will raise your brows.