Friday, December 14, 2012

The Controversy over Zero Dark Thirty

[Foreign Policy Online has an article on the movie and its portrayal of torture in Zero Farce Thirty restating the conclusion of the Washington defense establishment that extraordinary interrogation techniques (e.g. waterboarding) was not effective in general and did not help find Bin Laden.  See]

We have a major incident brewing between the glamourous and self-entitled motion picture industry which knows everything, and the Washington defense and intelligence community which also knows everything.

It shows every likelihood of blowing up into a big disaster and when it does, it will be the last time Hollywood gets any help from the DOD or intelligence, at least until the next time.

The new Kathryn Bigelow film, Zero Dark Thirty, which is considered a front runner for Best Picture before it is even released is going to say that torture enabled us to get Bin Laden. And Kathryn Bigelow was given access to all sorts of things about the background of that event, to the point where the Republicans in congress are atttacking the Obama administration and the CIA for releasing classified information. And Obama and the CIA helped Ms. Bigelow not knowing that she was going to say this so they have mud on their faces.

Or do they?  Maybe they planned their own humiliation as part of some complicated, mirrors within mirrors game of espionage!   How would we know?   Ok, this is unlikely.  Anyway, back to our story.

There are a number of different issues here.  The first is that no one in the defense and intelligence community that I know of (or have read online) believes that torture led us to Bin Laden.  The second is that the criminals in the Bush administration were never properly reprimanded by Obama (in other words, they were not charged with crimes that they had committed), and thus even though the Obama administration stopped the torture, or we think they did, they are compromised by their failure to punish the guilty.

And so it turns out that the Obama administration and the intelligence community cooperated in extraordinary ways with a filmmaker that was going to turn around and attack them in an area where they are compromised yet, in an odd way, innocent, stirring up an issue they wish would just go away.

What do I mean they cooperated in extraordinary ways?  Consider this: Kathryn Bigelow met the woman who in real life did what the heroine of the movie is going to be shown to do.  Now, the person, in real life is still covert. "Who cleared Bigelow to allow her to meet this person and know her real role?  Why was she cleared?  What else was she told?", you can just imagine the opponents to the Obama administration rubbing their hands in anticipatory glee.

So Bigelow not only damages the career of people who helped her, she gets the story wrong, and in doing so, she helps the case of people who believe we should be using torture.

What a delicious situation.

Cool nightvision image.

Perhaps the result will be that the next administration buoyed by the argument that torture had solid results here, will reinstate torture as our formal policy.  If not, it won't be because the people who helped Bigelow create this slander are there to do it, their career is (ahem) compromised.  Whatever the long term result, in the short term careers are damaged, people are embarrassed, the Obama administration will be under attack for working with this person, and on top of that, torture probably had very little to do with getting Bin Laden.

Thats show biz.

(In a further post, we will go over some nuances here about torture).

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