Evans attorney appears in Oscar-nominated movie

The Columbia County News-Times
By Jenna Martin
February 24, 2008

William Cassara, of Evans, has a role in a film that could receive an Oscar tonight.

He isn’t an actor. Instead, Cassara’s profession as a lawyer put him on the big screen.

“It’s pretty neat, actually,” he said, “I was quite surprised to hear it.”

Cassara lives and works in Evans as a lawyer in private practice, most of which involves representing members of the military.

It was that kind of work that led him to be filmed for Taxi to the Dark Side , a nominee for best documentary feature at the 80th annual Academy Awards, airing at 8 tonight on ABC.

The documentary, directed by Alex Gibney, investigates allegations of abuse of detainees at detention facilities at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

“I’m not going to say I agree with everything that’s in the movie from a political standpoint, but that’s OK,” Cassara said.

He defended Army Spc. Damien Corsetti, a military intelligence soldier at Bagram and Abu Ghraib, who was charged with various crimes after the Army’s investigation of prisoner abuse at Bagram, according to the film’s Web site. He was later exonerated.

Cassara appears in the documentary when he and his client were interviewed about abuse allegations at Bagram.

Cassara said he has not seen the film, but his client has. Corsetti told him that he doesn’t agree with all aspects but that the movie was powerful and well-made, the lawyer said.

Though Cassara hasn’t watched the film, he said he probably will watch the awards show.

“It’s not that I did anything to earn it, but it is still pretty intriguing,” he said.

Other documentaries competing in the category are Sicko, directed by Michael Moore; No End in Sight, directed by
Charles Ferguson; Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, directed by Richard E. Robbins; and War/Dance, directed by Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine.

View a clip of the movie here.