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Taibbi writes: "Bin Laden was maybe the most humorless person who ever lived, but he has to be laughing from the afterlife. We make an incredible movie that celebrates his death - a movie so good it'll be seen everywhere in the world - and all it does is prove him right about us."

Christopher Stanley, Jessica Chastain and Alex Corbet Burcher in Zero Dark Thirty. (photo: Columbia Pictures)
Christopher Stanley, Jessica Chastain and Alex Corbet Burcher in Zero Dark Thirty. (photo: Columbia Pictures)


'Zero Dark Thirty' Is bin Laden's Last Victory

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

17 January 12

 

went to see Zero Dark Thirty this weekend with great anticipation. I've always loved Kathryn Bigelow's movies - I'm a fan to an almost embarrassing degree. Like most people I liked the Busey-Keanu surf-and-bromance film Point Break, but I also loved the The Weight of Water, as well as Strange Days, The Widowmaker... Bigelow's movies are visually engrossing, innovative and smart, and I couldn't wait to see what she did with a real-life subject matter that had the potential to be both the greatest detective story and the greatest action-movie plot of all time.

So I went to see the movie and like most people I know who watched it, I was blown away. On a pure whodunit level, the bulk of the film was an unbelievably compelling thriller, and purely on the level of action cinematography, the final scene - with all its real-world drama and consequence, plus the unique fact the movie revealed secrets about one of the shadowiest, most highly-classified operations ever - was about as pulse-pounding and exciting as movies get.

The way Bigelow shot that last sequence in Abbotabad, constantly declining to Michael-Bay-ize the action sequences with goofball explosions and kung-fu battles, and not glossing over the brutality or the mission's mistakes (God, what a screw-up to crash that helicopter!), it was ingenious. For however long it lasted, you felt exactly how long 14 or 15 minutes can be, with so much on the line, crowds beginning to form, Pakistani jets on the way.

And when they dragged the big prize with its blood-soaked beard back into the copter and flew off, well - the triumph the characters felt at that moment exploded into the theater, there were gasps and patriotic applause, and even I got caught up in it. The only thing I can compare it to was seeing Rocky or Star Wars in theaters as a kid, the way the crowds went wild over the ass-kicking ending.

On the way home I felt buzzed and high, like one always does after seeing a great film, but then various things that had bothered me about the movie started to float to the surface.

Apart from the queasiness from the opening "enhanced interrogation" scene (more on that in a minute), there was the letdown purely on the detective-movie fanboy level I got from the fact that the "heroes" got their key information from torture. It was like watching a fishing show where the host throws dynamite in the lake to get the bass. In all the detective films and books I grew up watching and reading, the meathead cop who uses the third degree is always the villain - or if not the bad guy exactly, the sap, the klutz, who screws things up by swinging a fist when just talking would have worked fine.

In classic detective tales, the thug interrogator is even sometimes introduced as a parallel character to the hero, to show how things aren't done - think the Victory Motel scenes in L.A. Confidential, or the cops in Raymond Chandler's novels. Take the character of Captain Gregorius in The Long Goodbye, who gets tough with Marlowe when he didn't need to, trying to get him to fink on his friend in a murder investigation. Chandler couldn't have known how much a passage from his great P.I. novel would have relevance to the War on Terror decades later:

Gregorius bared his teeth at me. They needed cleaning - badly. "Let's have the exit line, chum."

"Yes, sir," I said politely. "You probably didn't intend it, but you've done me a favor. With an assist from Detective Dayton. You've solved a problem for me. No man likes to betray a friend but I wouldn't betray an enemy into your hands. You're not only a gorilla, you're an incompetent. You don't know how to operate a simple investigation. I was balanced on a knife edge and you could have swung me either way. But you had to abuse me, throw coffee in my face, and use your fists on me when I was in a spot where all I could do was take it. From now on I wouldn't tell you the time by the clock on your own wall."

For some strange reason he sat there perfectly still and let me say it. Then he grinned. "You're just a little old cop-hater, friend. That's all you are, shamus, just a little old cop-hater."

"There are places where cops are not hated, Captain. But in those places you wouldn't be a cop."

Back to the "enhanced interrogation" in the first scene: conducted by chameleonic Australian actor Jason Clarke's "Dan" character while Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain's Maya character looks on, it's shocking, horrific, disgusting, and it was obviously supposed to be all of those things.

By graphically depicting the sexual humiliation ("You don't mind if my female colleague sees your junk?" Clarke says, ripping the suspect's pants down as he hangs by his wrists), the walking around of suspects in dog-collars Lynndie-England-style, the putting of people in boxes, the waterboarding and the flat-out punching in the face (which Maya resorts to later, with help from another interrogator), Bigelow made it clear that she wasn't making any half-assed Rumsfeldian claim that what went on after 9/11, in thousands of grimy rooms around the world with thousands if not tens of thousands of people, somehow wasn't torture.

No, Bigelow wrapped her arms all the way around that subject, which makes sense now. She has since been praised, almost excessively, for being brave enough to "tell the truth" about torture in Zero Dark Thirty. As Manohla Dargis of the New York Times put it:

However unprovable the effectiveness of these interrogations, they did take place. To omit them from "Zero Dark Thirty" would have been a reprehensible act of moral cowardice.

Here's my question: if it would have been dishonest to leave torture out of the film entirely, how is it not dishonest to leave out how generally ineffective it was, how morally corrupting, how totally it enraged the entire Arab world, how often we used it on people we knew little to nothing about, how often it resulted in deaths, or a hundred other facts? Bigelow put it in, which was "honest," but it seems an eerie coincidence that she was "honest" about torture in pretty much exactly the way a CIA interrogator would have told the story, without including much else.

There's no way to watch Zero Dark Thirty without seeing it as a movie about how torture helped us catch Osama bin Laden. That's why I was blown away when I read this morning that Bigelow is now going with a line that "depiction is not endorsement," that simply showing torture does not amount to publicly approving of it.

If Bigelow really means that, I have a rhetorical question for her: Are audiences not supposed to cheer at the end of the film, when we get bin Laden? They cheered in the theater where I watched it. And is Maya a good character or a bad character? Did she cross some dark line in victory like Michael Corrleone, did she lose her moral self and her humanity chasing her goal like Captain Ahab, or is she just a modern-day Sherlock Holmes (or, hell, John McClane) getting his man in the end?

It seemed to me more the latter than anything else. I barely caught a whiff of a "moral journey/descent" storyline in this film - the closest they came to that was in the first scene, where Maya looks a little grossed out by Clarke's methods. A few minutes later, though, she's all street and everything, wearing a hijab and getting some henchman to throw fists at her suspects on command. She went from queasy to hardass in about ten seconds and we didn't linger on the transformation at all.

Bigelow is such a great storyteller that she has to know, deep inside, that the "depiction is not endorsement" line doesn't wash. You want audiences gripped to the screen, you've gotta give them something to root for, or against. This was definitely not a movie about two vicious and murderous groups of people killing and torturing each other in an endless cycle of increasingly brainless revenge. And this was not a movie about how America lost its values en route to a great strategic victory.

No, this was a straight-up "hero catches bad guys" movie, and the idea that audiences weren't supposed to identify with Maya the torturer is ludicrous. Are we really to believe that viewers aren't supposed to be shimmering in anticipation for her at the end, as she paces back and forth with set-fans whooshing back her beautiful red hair, waiting for her copter to come in? They might as well have put a cape and a Wonder Woman costume on her, that's how subtle that was.

Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal clearly spent a lot of time with sources in the CIA who were peddling a version of history where the "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" program, though distasteful, scored us the big prize in the end.

In Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney's agonizing and affecting documentary about EIT called Taxi to the Dark Side, he talks about the phenomenon of "force drift" in torture, when interrogators start using harsher methods when the permitted ones don't work. Well, in journalism, what happened with Boal and Bigelow is what you might call "access drift" - when you really, really love the drama of the story you're hearing, you start leaning in the direction of your sources even if the truth doesn't quite cooperate.

Obviously, torture does produce some information, maybe even some good information. If you really squint hard, it may very well be that, technically speaking, there's a lot of truth in the plot of Zero Dark Thirty. It may be that we wouldn't have found bin Laden without torture. And as such, any movie about the hunt for bin Laden that excluded scenes of torture would have been dishonest.

But that's not what's messed up about this movie. The problem had nothing to do with the fact that Bigelow showed torture. It was the way she depicted it - without perspective, and in the context of a pulse-pounding thriller where the audience is clearly supposed to root for the big treasure find.

For one thing, Gibney put out a compelling argument in a Huffington Post piece that the ZD30 storyline is not accurate in the sense that it excluded crucial information. He points to several facts that Bigelow and Boal chose to ignore (and remember, this was supposed to be a "journalistic account," according to Bigelow), like for instance:

  1. Mohammed Al-Qatani, the so-called "20th hijacker," who may have been some part of the inspiration for the "Ammar" character who was tortured in the opening scene, might have been the first detainee to mention the name of bin Laden's courier. But as Gibney points out, al-Qatani gave that information up to the FBI, in legit, torture-free interrogations, before he was whisked away to Gitmo for 49 days of torture that included such insanities as forcing him to urinate on himself (by force-feeding him liquids while in restraints), making him watch a puppet show of him and bin Laden having sex, making him take dance lessons, making him wear panties on his head, and making him wear a "smiley-face" mask, along with the usual sleep and sensory deprivation, arm-hanging, etc. In other words, the key info may have come before they chucked our supposed standards for human decency.

  2. The CIA waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times, and throughout this "enhanced interrogation," the former al-Qaeda mastermind continually played down the importance of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the man who led the CIA to bin Laden. But the CIA was so sure KSM was telling the truth under torture - so sure waterboarding was a "magic bullet," as Gibney put it to me - that they discounted the lead. So torture may have actually delayed bin Laden's capture.

  3. The CIA took another detainee, Ibn al-Sheik al Libi, and duct-taped his head, put him in a wooden box, shipped him off to Cairo to be waterboarded, and got him to admit under torture that there were links between Saddam Hussein and bin Laden. This "intel" became part of Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. on the need to invade Iraq. So while torture might have found us bin Laden, maybe, it also very well might have sent us on one of history's all-time pointlessly bloody wild goose chases, invading Iraq in search of WMDs.

A more accurate movie about the torture program would have been a grotesque comedy that showed grown men resorting to puppet shows and dance routines and fourth-rate sexual indignities dreamed up after spending too much time reading spank mags and BDSM sites - and doing this thousands of times to thousands of people, all over the world, "accidentally" murdering hundreds of people in the process, going to war by mistake at least once as a result of it, and having no clue half the time who they're interrogating (less than 10 percent of "terror suspects" at places like Bagram were arrested by American forces; most of the rest were brought in by Afghanis or other foreigners in exchange for bounties).

I mean, this is real Keystone Kops stuff, on a grand scale, only it had the minor side effect of destroying everything America purports to stand for, in addition to being comically stupid and ineffective.

Zero Dark Thirty is like a gorgeously-rendered monument to the fatal political miscalculation we made during the Bush years. It's a cliché but it's true: Bin Laden wanted us to make this mistake. He wanted America to respond to him by throwing off our carefully-crafted blanket of global respectability to reveal a brutal, repressive hypocrite underneath. He wanted us to stop pretending that we're the country that handcuffs you and reads you your rights instead of extralegally drone-bombing you from the stratosphere, or putting one in your brain in an Egyptian basement somewhere.

The only way we were ever going to win the War on Terror was to win a long, slow, political battle, in which we proved bin Laden wrong, where we allowed people in the Middle East to assess us as a nation and decide we didn't deserve to be mass-murdered. To use another cliché, we needed to win hearts and minds. We had to make lunatics like bin Laden pariahs among their own people, which in turn would make genuine terrorists easier to catch with the aid of genuinely sympathetic local populations.

Instead, we turned people like bin Laden into heroes. Just like Marlowe in The Long Goodbye, there were a lot of people in the Middle East who were on the knife-edge about America after 9/11. Yes, we were hated for supporting Israel, but the number of people willing to suicide-bomb us was still a tiny minority.

The EIT program changed that. We tortured and humiliated thousands of people across the world. We did it on camera, in pictures that everyone in the Middle East can watch over and over again on the Internet. We became notorious for a vast kidnapping program we called by the harmless-sounding term "rendition," and more lately for an endless campaign of extralegal drone attacks, through which 800 innocent people have died in Afghanistan alone in the last four years (the Guardian claims we've killed 168 children in that country in the last seven years).

Now we have this movie out that seems to celebrate the use of torture against Arabs, and we're nominating it for Oscars. Bigelow can say that "depiction is not endorsement," but how does she think audiences will receive it in the Middle East? Are they going to sell lots of popcorn in Riyadh and Kabul during the waterboarding scenes?

This film got nominated for Best Picture - it could even win. Has anyone thought about how Zero Dark Thirty winning Best Picture will be received in places like Kashmir and Waziristan and Saudi Arabia?

But forget about all of that. The real problem is what this movie says about us. When those Abu Ghraib pictures came out years ago, at least half of America was horrified. The national consensus (albeit by a frighteningly slim margin) was that this wasn't who we, as a people, wanted to be. But now, four years later, Zero Dark Thirty comes out, and it seems that that we've become so blunted to the horror of what we did and/or are doing at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and Bagram and other places that we can accept it, provided we get a boffo movie out of it.

That's pathetic. Bin Laden was maybe the most humorless person who ever lived, but he has to be laughing from the afterlife. We make an incredible movie that celebrates his death - a movie so good it'll be seen everywhere in the world - and all it does is prove him right about us.

Editor's Note: Since I seem to be taking a lot of heat for this one, a few notes. Many emailers are telling me this was a movie that "examined the moral costs of victory" and showed many scenes of regret and internal conflict. One pointed to the fact that "Dan" went home, another pointed to Maya's tears at the end as being "symbolic" of America's ambivalence about all that messy torture stuff.

First of all, Dan went home because he was tired. If you want to argue that he really went home because he was sick of torturing people, good luck with that one, because he went home to stay in the CIA and oversee the same goddamned torture programs! How's that for moral disgust! Forget John Paul Vann, dude is practically Gandhi. There's no actual evidence for any kind of moral wrangling in Dan's case -- it's much more likely that he just felt like wearing a tie for a while.

As for Maya's tears, anyone who reads in regret or ambivalence there is doing just that: reading in. I saw that scene as being identical to the ending of The Princess Bride, when Inigo Montoya says, "I've been in the revenge business for so long, now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life."

All the "examining the moral cost" stuff people seem to be seeing is, by an amazing coincidence, unspoken and implied in this movie. All the stuff about how torture helped us catch bin Laden is, by yet another, equally amazing coincidence, explicit and shown quite graphically.

Some wrote in and said that all Bigelow was doing was telling an "objective" story and leaving it to us to sort it out. That's bullshit. All storytelling is a series of editorial decisions. You decide what to leave in, what to leave out. In doing so you reveal a point of view. They kept to a very narrow storyline that ended in the triumphant capture of bin Laden. The posters don't say, "WE SOLD OUR SOULS TO GET HIM," they read, "THE GREATEST MANHUNT IN HISTORY." There's no Das Boot-style shock-bummer ending where Maya steps off her transport plane and gets blown to hell.

My last comment is going to be this: to all the people defending the movie, what do you think Dick Cheney's review is going to be? Isn't it just a crazy coincidence that he's probably going to love it?


 

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+178 # giraffee2012 2013-01-17 10:39
It was a money maker - which is all a movie is supposed to do. That people "believe in" the plots or wish them true is why Hollywood in any country makes these movies.

Since the torture scenes give Cheney's stupid theory credibility - I won't spend a dime to see this movie! I want Cheney in jail and not applauded.
 
 
+101 # REDPILLED 2013-01-17 14:04
"I won't spend a dime to see this movie! I want Cheney in jail and not applauded."

Excellent! I agree completely.
 
 
+20 # seefeellove 2013-01-19 10:27
Why would anyone create a movie that strengthens the FALSE and destructive narrative of depicting torture as an effective tool to extract information? I wish we all would understand some of the root causes of violence: economic poverty and poverty of the mind.

We need to see the problem clearly: Hollywood, unknowingly or knowingly, has contributed to the continuance of maintaining a toxic biopsychosocial , spiritual, legal, political, and economic environment of scarcity, disconnect, and greed. The few extreme, narrow-minded fundamentalist worshippers of Capitalism just received another injection of arrogance and ignorance. May we all be free of suffering and the root causes of suffering.
 
 
+163 # lark3650 2013-01-17 10:46
HAVEN'T SEEN IT....DON'T INTEND TO...ESPECIALLY IF IT IS A MOVIE THAT WILL PUT A SMILE ON DICK CHENEY'S FACE.

YOU ARE RIGHT, MATT. BIN LADEN IS HAVING THE LAST LAUGH.....
 
 
+56 # jmac9 2013-01-17 13:24
Righto Lark

Bush needed Bin Laden alive so as to keep the fraud of the "war on terror" going.

Bush - flew the family members of Osama bin Laden out of the USA - the day of the 9-11 attack.

Why are all the USA listed "terrorists" Islamic? The root is the USA-Israeli terrorism against the Islamic-Arab Palestinian people.
 
 
+119 # Deboldt 2013-01-17 11:00
Now that the negative criticism has coalesced and some have even called for a boycott of the Oscars for nominating Zero Dark Thirty, Bigalow has suggested hers is a matter of first amendment rights and freedom of artistic expression. She has characterized criticism of the torture sequences as squeamishness to the realities of the conflict. She seems to think objections to her film center mainly around the fact of the depiction of torture not the way she depicted it or to her falsely attributing torture as an essential and effective part of the intelligence gathering toolbox. Her claim that she only attempted accurately and objectively to show all the ins and outs of the lead up to the capture bin Laden is clearly incorrect—need I say a lie? To see the film is to know it for what it is: a transparently jingoistic, pro-American piece of propaganda that tries to vindicate the absurd War on Terror, legitimize torture, murder, atrocity and illegality, and make war criminals into heroes. I don’t know whom director Bigelow is trying to fool with her interviews in which she describes herself as an apolitical pacifist—certai nly no viewer of the film.
 
 
+49 # Michael_K 2013-01-17 11:43
Bigelow should be reminded of Bob Dylan's warning: "You're gonna serve somebody"...
 
 
+42 # RLF 2013-01-17 13:41
Bigelow thinks she has rights? More rights than the tortured? What an idiot...I think she just wanted the big bucks. She seems like Lenny reifenstall(sp) . more than anyone else. Propagandist for the fascists.
 
 
+41 # jmac9 2013-01-17 13:42
Debolt

you are correct - 'Hollywood' investors put in millions toward the making of this film.

For Director Ms. Bigelow to try and deny a legitimizing of torture, and justifying the fraud of the 'war on terror', is beyond credibility - and displays more Hollywood PR deception.

Someone was going to make a movie about America murdering Osama bin Laden - and since it would be made by rich Americans - it sure was going to avoid a disclosure of all the fraud of the 'war on terror' and the criminality of America in its history with Osama, Saudi Arabia, Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein and Israel.
That kind of truth telling movie would never come out of Hollywood, have a tiny budget, be an 'independent' picture, and get its director-produc er thrown in USA jail for being 'domestic terrorists' according to the FBI.
 
 
+27 # REDPILLED 2013-01-17 14:09
I must now add "an apolitical pacifist" to my growing list of Orwellian contradictions. It's not an oxymoron, because an oxymoron merely sounds contradictory, but is actually true. All pacifists are political, whether they want to be or not. As a conscientious objector since 1967, I speak from experience.
 
 
+11 # jmac9 2013-01-17 14:28
you are correct - 'Hollywood' investors pt in millions toward the making of this film.

For Director Ms. Bigelow to try and deny a legitimizing of torture, and justifying the fraud of the 'war on terror', is beyond credibility - and is Hollywood PR deception.

Someone was going to make a movie about America murdering Osama bin Laden - and since it would be made by rich Americans - it sure was going to avoid a disclosure of all the fraud of the 'war on terror' and the criminality of America in its history with Osama, Saudi Arabia, Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein and Israel.
That kind of truth telling movie would never come out of Hollywood, have a tiny budget, be an 'independent' picture, and get its director-produc er thrown in USA jail for being 'domestic terrorists' according to the FBI.
 
 
-12 # bmiluski 2013-01-18 13:05
Osama bin Laden was NOT MURDERED, he was EXECUTED for being the common criminal he was.
 
 
+105 # houlihantobin 2013-01-17 11:02
You rock, Taibbi. I hope you take good care of yourself because we need you writing your marvelous, insightful prose for the next hundred years or so. Some great writer needs to see this country through these dark times into which we have so happily descended. Especially since Molly Ivins deserted us. I hope we come out the other end into the light, but between condoning torture and showing insufficient outrage at the murder of innocents in Newtown and elsewhere, I am not hopeful. As if two destructive immoral wars were not enough, the NRA's recent TV ad using the president's kids as bait for the gun crazies seems an indication of where we're headed. And I didn't think there was another circle of hell lower than invading Iraq.
 
 
+13 # btfeldman 2013-01-17 11:19
Having not yet seen the movie, I have gleaned from Taibbi that it factually exposed America's immoral, unspeakable and unnecessary actions under the Bush Administration and also America's necessary delivery of justice to Bin Laden. The crowd's reaction and Taibbi's delayed reaction may be part of Bigelow's theatre.
 
 
+31 # beeyl 2013-01-17 14:44
You haven't gleaned well, my friend: the film only factually exposed a portion of EIT's immoral and unspeakable nature - by showing how cruel and gruesome they were - but then falsely painted that cruelty as the opposite of "unnecessary," as you say it: ZD30 implies torture was essential for finding OBL. This is the whole point of Taibbi's article, and it is the painfully obvious criticism that Bigelow is trying so hard to pretend she doesn't comprehend.
 
 
+12 # mjnk 2013-01-17 11:25
Thank you for that! It reminds me of an article (for Esquire, I believe)titled AN OSCAR FOR OUR SINS which excoriated the Deer Hunter. Emerson who covered the Vietnam War for the NYT won the National Book Award for WINNERS AND LOSERS.
 
 
+83 # Vardoz 2013-01-17 11:29
Bill Maher had a clip of Christiane Amanpou from years ago on his show after Bin Laden was killed where she says Oh everyone knows that Bin Laden is in Pakistan living in a Mansion. So They knew where he was all along. I think Obama just wanted an excuse to get out of Afghanistan. But for every reason on Earth they must hate us. All you have to do is put yourself in their shoes. kids get killed in Sandy Hook and we are outraged but we kill truck loads of kids in Afghanistan and no one bats an eye lash.
 
 
+14 # Dion Giles 2013-01-17 12:22
RIGHTLY outraged. The people of every nation on earth, at every time in history, will focus a great deal of attention on attacks on their own follow-citizens .
 
 
+73 # Dion Giles 2013-01-17 11:38
An excellent review. Just one glaring nitpick though. When will writers who know better stop depicting the invasion of Iraq as something like "one of history's all-time pointlessly bloody wild goose chases, invading Iraq in search of WMDs"? It was not a colossal blunder, it was the same despicable crime that got the German ringleaders rightly hanged at Nuremberg. The trigger was a tissue of lies, not blunders. Lies as blatant as the lies about the supposed Polish incursion into Germany.

Even the background event, the real attack on the USA on September 11 2001, happened with at the very least the participation and connivance of key elements of the then Administration - vide the critical stand-down of the air defences, the stubborn refusal to co-operate in a searching public inquiry into the mechanics of the attack, the hasty spiriting away of Saudis during a clamp-down on air travel, the eager scripted grasping of the attack as changing the USA for ever.

The immediate causus belli for Iraq was a lie campaign, and the background event in 2001 which provided psychological cover for "getting tough" on Moslems was in itself highly iffy.
 
 
+31 # Vardoz 2013-01-17 13:42
Wel Chaney and Bush are considered war criminals in Europe and would be arrested if they go there.
 
 
+26 # Scotty44 2013-01-17 14:32
After reading Mary's Mosaic, The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F Kennedy, delineating how the CIA tried to trap JFK into air support for the Bay of Pigs, how it and the military tried to escalate the Cuban missile crisis, how they planned and pushed for the Operation Norwood false flag provocation, how the CIA assassinated Kennedy, and how all of the security apparatuses covered up for the operation, and having previously read that the CIA paid - via Pakistan's intelligence agency - one of the hijackers $100K right before 9/11, I have no doubts 9/11 was a false flag operation, and that our security agencies provoke conflicts to retain their power and funding and sell armaments. Eisenhower warned us of the military/indust rial complex, which has morphed into a military/indust rial/congressional/security agencies complex. Their, the financial industry/govern ment cabal, and the corporatist/gov ernment cabal control our country, not the voters.
 
 
+28 # James Marcus 2013-01-17 11:41
Don't Forget. Osama was framed. A 'Patsy'; and tortured/killed for Silence, so the frame-up would 'Hold'.
A-la Lee Harvey Oswald . (Same Gang, behind it all)
Whilst we 'argue Osama details', the real 9/11 perps go scott free
The Big Monies, via their clones, still 'Creating Wars' (where The Money is Syphoned) and blaming ...'others'.
 
 
+53 # Michael_K 2013-01-17 11:41
Matt, Naomi Wolf very accurately compared Bigelow to Leni Riefenstahl. A comparison that had struck me quite forcefully as well. The film is pure propaganda for the worst kind of jingoism, it is intended to feed the coterie of fist-pumping, rutting baboons chanting "USA, USA, USA" until their throats ache.

The fact is that Leni Bigelow already confessed that she was quite well aware that torture in no way assisted in the assassination of Bin Laden, her explanation was that of a propagandist: "it was a cinematic decision".

But Bigelow's sins are far more egregious than Leni's, because Bigelow is certainly well aware of the precedent and Bigelow's "cinematic decisions" were far too close to Leni's for anyone's conscience to tolerate.

As far as the Oscars go... remember that Nobel Peace Prizes are also going astray into the slimiest gutters.
 
 
+33 # AMLLLLL 2013-01-17 11:48
Yes, thanks, Matt, for speaking truth to glamor. I'm surprised the FBI tolerates the skewed narrative. The same thought occurred to me about this film being shown worldwide and what jerks we have become. I used to admire Bigelow, but she's achieved a new low.
 
 
+62 # marjb 2013-01-17 11:52
I guess Kathryn Bigelow is our Leni Riefenstahl. Glorifying and then standing back and saying, "That's not what I meant at all." I for one will NOT go to see "Zero Dark Thirty," and I think everyone who believes torture is immoral should vote with their feet as well.
 
 
+23 # PGreen 2013-01-17 12:04
I probably won't bother to see it, but like a news article, issues of financing, and access to sources are key in determining the content of a movie-- as well as the bias of the film maker. Perhaps we'll hear more about these issues, given the controversy. The reaction of the industry will also say a lot about the political savvy (or agenda) of Bigelow's peers, just as the movie's reputed endorsement of torture says a lot about her own.
Remember propaganda works or they'd be no Madison Avenue.
 
 
+19 # Scotty44 2013-01-17 14:44
The movie is propaganda, heavily influenced by the CIA. It has had an operation influencing our media almost from its beginning, including in Hollywood. It has recruited cooperatives from the media, placed agents in the media, and the top echelon and owners of media outlets support their goals of hegemony and eternal conflict. It makes them richer and more powerful, and keeps the electorate so fearful that it kisses their butts.
 
 
+58 # juliajayne 2013-01-17 12:05
Can't we finally lay to rest the notion that Hollywood is some bastion of liberalism? Besides a few films here and there, it pretty much promotes a conservative agenda/philosop hy, broadly speaking (not talking about those who are squeamish about bad language and depictions of sex). I'm thinking Robert Redford would NOT have made this film.

I didn't intend to see it. After reading some about how the torture was depicted, I wouldn't give a dime to support it. And I'm glad there are people like Mr. Taibbi who are willing to take the backlash for pointing out the uncomfortable truths against the tide of Oscar buzz and the false flag of patriotism. Great job, as usual, Matt!
 
 
-2 # giraffee2012 2013-01-17 14:15
Juliajayne - "bastion of liberalism"? Cheney and other HAWKS are not liberals! So I don't understand ur equating this torture idea in this movie with the "left" - The HAWKS are "conservative" Repug-baggers!

Sincerely Yours,
A liberal, progressive or any other word that distances me from "conservative" Repug-bagger
 
 
+20 # juliajayne 2013-01-17 17:31
Yes, "Cheney and other hawks" are NOT liberal and neither is Hollywood. That's my exact point. It's been pilloried as such, but it's a myth.
 
 
+18 # Roger Kotila 2013-01-17 12:14
I worry that bin Laden really didn't do it. That he was innocent. I also suspect that we used torture and insist upon virtually secret trials to hide the fact that the alleged ring leaders of 9/11 were tortured to obtain false confessions. "Patsies" in the false flag operation business. What if the so-called hijackers really didn't do it?
 
 
+15 # Scotty44 2013-01-17 14:48
What if they did? Such doesn't mean it wasn't instigated and paid for by the CIA. Cooperation of the security apparatuses of the US was necessary to its success.
 
 
+22 # beeyl 2013-01-17 15:12
It is a fact that we've tortured and killed without due process - in captivity and by drone strikes - hundreds of innocent people. Is this part of the "success" you're talking about? Or do you agree with us humans that it was indefensible? If so, what are you saying?

The only distinction I would make between Taibbi's reaction to the film and mine regards his reaction to the shooting of OBL. I did not feel like cheering, when I first heard about it or when seeing the final scene of ZD30. OBL was unarmed, and I wanted to see his trial, at The Hague, before the whole world. When OBL was denied that due process, we were all denied seeing the trial that should have happened.
 
 
+11 # Scotty44 2013-01-17 16:20
I'm saying that the success of 9/11 was dependent on the cooperation of "our" security apparatus. Personally, I think, at this time, that OBL died of natural causes in 2002, and if the seals did anything, it was a charade for which the CIA could easily manufacture evidence supporting said charade. It did it in the Kennedy assassination's cover-up, and it is probably far more capable now.
It would be pure lunacy for a government needing to collaborate the official story of 9/11 to murder OBL and dump his body in the ocean, and then kill off all of the witnesses that couldn't be controlled. It being a charade makes more sense.
 
 
+4 # Anarchist 23 2013-01-18 14:24
Dead Men tell no tales. OBL meet LHO! that was the whole point!
 
 
+7 # aaheart 2013-01-17 16:13
There's no evidence that the alleged hijackers of 9-11 did it since at least 9 of them had complained the next day about their images and names being associated with such horrific terrorism ... and one of them had died a few years before.

The remote control technology had been available for nearly a decade and one of the zionists who wrote the PNAC document calling for a "Pearl Harbor" type of event was Rabbi Dov Zakheim, comptroller at the Pentagon after working for SPC, the company that developed the remote control equipment for use in war exercises.

To make all of this even more grimly crazy is the testimony over ten years that Osama bin Laden had died in mid-December of 2001 of complications of his failing kidneys. Who the SEALS actually killed is just another war-crime...
 
 
+1 # Anarchist 23 2013-01-18 14:24
Several of the 'hijackers' are still alive in their home countries. Especially the one whose passport was 'found' near Ground Zero. He reported himself 'alive.'I forget the name but can find it. since 9/11 the country formerly known ans the USA has gone Fascist and the world is embroiled in every widening war as economies plunge, the climate goes off the rails and people everywhere are losing everything. After a lifetime of seeing political assassinations like JFK, RFK,MLK JR., Aldo Moro, Colisea (in Mexico amid a crowd) Sen. Wellborn (?right name?) while authoritarianis m everywhere is triumphing-to believe in the 'Official History' of anything is to cut your own throat.
 
 
+38 # Wordslinger 2013-01-17 12:34
I saw the film but my review is slightly different from Taibbi's: Zero Dark Thirty - Yawn.

Am I the only one to recognize the similarity of the two opposing teams in this film? The Jihadists feel completely morally justified in killing Americans. The Americans are ditto in their pursuit of killing Arabs. I never could figure out who to root for. The primary character, the 12-year CIA agent called "Maya" has no other interest in life other than finding bin Ladin. She has no friends, relatives, or lovers male or female. Only herself. We are hurled from one frustrated intel attempt to another while Maya fights her stupid bosses. At the end, we get the superbowl SWAT attack on bin Ladin's digs, complete with multi-goggled SEALS, in a ballet-like re-enactment of what we all knew took place before we bought the movie ticket.
the real message of the film is: we live in a sick, sick, sick, violent world and our leaders are just as insane as those of our enemies. Reality.
 
 
-16 # probert160@aol.com 2013-01-17 12:37
Sorry, Mike, torture is not the first scene in the film. the first scene is a black screen, with audio from the World Trade Center. It is from that scene that all the rest flows.
 
 
-13 # tonywicher 2013-01-17 12:43
Anybody who knows anything at all knows that bin Laden was only a patsy for the real perpetrators of 9/11, and that he died of kidney disease (Marfan's syndrome) in early 2002. Hollywood is just another disinformation outlet for the CIA - and so is Matt Taibbi.
 
 
+22 # Doubting Thomas 2013-01-17 13:41
Quote:
Hollywood is just another disinformation outlet for the CIA - and so is Matt Taibbi.
Disagree re Matt. His work on the 'Bailout' is spot on. Why do you think he's a sellout?
 
 
+19 # 4yourinformation 2013-01-17 12:53
Matt hits it right on the head.
 
 
-19 # brwith 2013-01-17 13:23
I abhore torture, and war. After seeing the film, my feelings have changed not one iota. My experience was exactly what I hoped for. It was delivered to me expertly. I wanted to see the string of events as realistically as possible culminating in an accurate and riveting depiction of the "capture" as experienced by the highly trained men who carried out the mission. We should count ourselves fortunate that Bigelow chose to invest her considerable talent and resources to provide this experience. I fee it is extremely unfortunate that anyone would be deterred from seeing this film because of the intellectualizi ng of one facet of the movie no matter how controversial. It was a depiction, not a dissertation. The fight against torture, the fight for alternatives to war, the fight to provide a better American an example continues. A movie of this caliber comes around all to infrequently.
 
 
+18 # aaheart 2013-01-17 16:17
Nevertheless, our vote with our money is even more powerful than our vote for a candidate. Boycott lies and refuse to comply with evil.
 
 
+24 # Doubting Thomas 2013-01-17 13:34
Who says Bin Laden was really killed on this raid?
The body was dumped at sea, and he never had his day in court ... a great loss to history and Truth. Does anyone else find it odd that a member of the super-secret Seal Team 6 was 'allowed' to rush a book into print? Or that a blockbuster recruiting film was rushed to screen? Matt Taiibi needs to go back to the beginning of the story ... and examine why no one has ever seen video of a commercial airliner crashing into the Pentagon on 911 ... and look closely at the photos showing the pod on the belly of the 2nd plane that hit the WTC. We need a new movie, perhaps by Oliver Stone, exposing the many, MANY lies of 911 ... the day America had a military coup.
 
 
+2 # larrypayne 2013-01-17 15:12
Oliver Stone has a new book out. It's title is "The Untold History of the United States." He basically accepts the official lies in his new book.
His book has been made into a series that's being broadcast on TV. Stone must have favored his pocketbook over the truth in this case.
 
 
+4 # ghostperson 2013-01-18 14:15
The last episode contains stunning information about the expansion of our military presence world-wide. Our economic, military and political collapse cannot be far away if this "presence" is to be maintained.
 
 
+18 # BDavis25 2013-01-17 13:35
As always, wonderful commentary by Matt Taibbi. Two comments: Upon seeing Errol Morris' documentary about Abu Ghraib, I was struck by the amateurishness of our intelligence-ga thering efforts--the ridiculous sexual fixation that is more than an attempt to exploit the supposed modesty of Muslims, the half-baked measures of a people that is often brutal but can't admit that brutality to ourselves. The grunts made to torture people were ordered around by shadowy figures who had no clear lines of authority, and of course they took the fall for the bosses. I kept thinking, you should review the torture techniques of the Nazis or Soviets under Stalin if you want to use torture, instead of these silly (though obviously frightening to the victims) techniques the Americans use.

Second, Taibbi's comment about Bin Laden exposing American brutality to the world revealed that Bin laden, in his insane way, did what Gandhi did with the British, who similarly maintained notions of their nobility as a people while taking some savage shortcuts to empire. Gandhi's nonviolence exposed the brutality that lay behind the British system, just as Bin Laden exposed ours.
 
 
-53 # Monsterzero 2013-01-17 13:42
move to the middle east if you don't like it.
 
 
+12 # larrypayne 2013-01-17 14:10
I wonder how Taibbi and Bigelow and the CIA explain the news video made by an on-the-street BBC reporter in Abbottabad. The reporter interviewed over 50 residents of Abbottabad and only one out of the 50 thought the victim was Bin Laden.

The old man watching the video who was supposed to be Bin Laden is holding the remote in his right hand. Bin Laden's Most Wanted FBI poster says Bin Laden was left handed.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1JWpgAWKEU
 
 
+8 # aaheart 2013-01-17 16:23
Most of the SEALS involved in the Abbotabad attack died shortly thereafter in a helicopter crash...conveni ently for the Obama administration since the testimony of eyewitnesses around the alleged Bin Laden Compound was that only one helicopter arrived on site and that crashed and burned killing all aboard. The neighbors were the First Responders, but their witness to the event is carefully ignored.
 
 
+6 # larrypayne 2013-01-17 19:40
Do you have a link to where you got the information on the first responders and what they said? As a photographer I flew with a lot of ex-military helicopter pilots and from my experience none of them would have ever flown their helicopter in a manner that would cause it to lose lift.
It's a simple matter. You don't hover in one spot close to the ground. Keep the helicopter moving. All experienced pilots are well aware of what will happen if they don't keep the helicopter moving.
 
 
+9 # aaheart 2013-01-17 16:29
The First Responders to the helicopter crash at Abbotabad were the neighbors to the compound. They said only one helicopter arrived in the initial assault and that it crashed and burned killing all aboard...a few weeks later came the news that the Abbotabad SEALS team had all been killed in a crash in Afghanistan. Creating a blockbuster film about this nonhistorical event papers over the gross inconsistency by providing the video footage otherwise unrecorded and unsupported by the eyewitnesses to a senseless war.
 
 
+2 # Al21 2013-01-18 00:39
Well said!
 
 
+38 # davegowdey 2013-01-17 14:44
The one thing that the CIA is truly good at is Public Relations. I won't see this film because it is fundamentally a lie. It cheers an agency that took ten years to find a 6"4" Arab that needs kidney dialysis and who was being safe housed by an intelligence agency that was supposedly our ally. Moreover, our elite SEAL team had a tremendous victory over essentially no opposition - and still crashed a helicopter. Oh, and if torture worked we would have found Bin Laden when Cheney and Rumsfeld were still capturing and torturing everyone they could. Documenting and glorifying what is in reality the biggest example of the incompetence of US intelligence community in modern times just seems to me to be surreal.
 
 
+30 # sadylady 2013-01-17 15:37
I went to see it; I love shoot-em-ups and intrigue. The theatre was filled (it was free Tues), the audience enthralled. I lasted for about 15 min, and had to leave, not for the violence itself--I was primed for that-but for what humans were doing to other humans. Did I hear someone say it was worth it because it produced intel? Did it? Or that we gave as good as we got? I do know we dehumanized and humiliated for no benefit.
I agree with Matt. It was dishonest on Bigelow's part to leave out the most important fact surrounding the torture: it didn't work.
 
 
+5 # Anarchist 23 2013-01-18 14:29
Thanks for the report on audience response. Seems there are lots of 'good Germans' believing and approving of the state myths. I will NEVER go to that film.
 
 
+3 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-01-18 20:10
That's interesting you like shoot-em-ups but had to leave after 15 minutes of this.
Doesn't make me want to see it, for sure.
 
 
+22 # secretlifeofwords 2013-01-17 16:21
What a fantastic review. I am confirmed in my decision not to see this film, and I am thoroughly disgusted by its obvious glorification of what makes me ashamed to be American.
 
 
+19 # dyannne 2013-01-17 16:58
I didn't plan to see it because I hate torture. This story only seals the deal for me in cement.
 
 
-2 # Sensible1 2013-01-17 18:02
When we start to explain, colorize, depict, or reach conclusions about real life events, we have entered a world of fantasy reserved for only the most zealous and dedicated movie enthusiasts. Could it be some of those well know Speilberg great movies are actually retold tales of real life events? Lets not get carried away with the silver screen, they have yet to do justice to what is real, and what is just another wonderful movie.
 
 
+21 # Woratnac 2013-01-17 18:09
This is the first time I've found Matt Taibbi boring. Too LONG! Also: it's a fact that under the Nuremberg Charter and other international codes of law, heinous criminals like Bin Laden must be pursued by Interpol/nation al police, captured, and brought to trial. Assassinating them without that strikes death blows against the rule of law and marks our descent into barbarism. That Americans rejoiced and reveled when he was killed shows their own descent into the deep pits.
 
 
-3 # Richard B. 2013-01-17 18:56
As usual I agree with Matt T. on virtually everything he writes. I have seen the movie and may see it again. It is compelling drama and I was focused like a laser throughout. I was happy to see the torture scenes filmed as extremely difficult to watch which they should have been. I doubt that Cheney will appreciate that part of the re-creation since the methods used are torture by any definition. I did not see anyone provide actionable intel to get the torture to stop. When it was provided, it had obviously been a number of days later since the subject's face was no longer swollen, cut or bleeding and looked perfectly normal. Conventional techniques were being used at the time of the surrender of data. I agree that this distinction may have been too subtle and was probably done for dramatic effect for which Bigelow should have to answer. I also think the Leni R. comparisons are over the top. Leni R. never was an apologist for Hitler's crimes...she was a complete cheerleader and gave her audience nothing but puff and praise. I think Bigelow has portrayed torture as it was really used and even if it led to good intel, which I do not believe, it is impossible to defend and if Cheney loves the film he is implicitly admitting that he has lied all along about the use of "enhanced interrogation". I thought it was a spectacularly intense and MOSTLY accurate portrayal of the events. I regret that total honesty was sacrificed on the altar of dramatic license.
 
 
+3 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-01-18 20:11
How can you tell if it's an accurate portrayal of events if you weren't involved in the events?
 
 
+14 # MrBetpower 2013-01-17 21:45
What a crass article this is! And what US propaganda! This movie is nothing but blood money from the execution of a human being with no charge, jury in a court of law, or justice involved. If we can believe this is how (or if) it happened, that is. Same on the US military-govern ment's intrusion into Hollywood movies, which in this case, are certainly not entertainment. Unless, I guess, you get off on actually murdering people outside national and international law.
 
 
+6 # Al21 2013-01-18 00:30
Well said. Sadly it is not the only case of the intelligence community and hollywood working together, but it may be the most damaging to date.
 
 
+8 # Al21 2013-01-18 00:38
I'll never see this piece of propaganda. There's no doubt the torture scenes were included as they were on purpose. It helps make the deluded in this country to believe that torture was and is a good thing is this trumped up war on terror. And it will be a great recruiting vehicle for those in the world who hate our government and see it for what it is.
Bigelow is no dummy and knew exactly what she was doing. This may have been the price for the CIA helping her gain access to the information she wanted. Either way, it makes the Chenys of this country very happy and leaves the door open to perpetuating the so-called war on terror which the powers that be, never ever want to end. Like the film-- it's a great money maker.
 
 
+7 # Al21 2013-01-18 00:29
Great article Matt. For all the excuses Ms. Bigelow has made; she is an astute enough movie maker to know exactly what she did in playing out the torture scenes as she has.
You are right, the film will be seen all over the world and they will see the US as exactly the true villain of the film and the actual event. Between drone attacks, unnecessary wars and years of supporting dictators and strong men- the rest of the world sees this government for what it is. This is just one more big nail in our coffin.
Now regardless of what the truth was in this particular instance--- we will seem like the torturers we are-- and no doubt that half of this country will continue to believe that torture was warranted here. Because as the reporter says at the end of John Ford's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend". And so all this film will succeed in doing, is being one more recruitment poster to keep the war on terror going. Which in the long run is exactly what Cheney, and all those who think like him, want.
 
 
+2 # kcassidy50 2013-01-18 06:58
When Michael Moore makes his film about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden Matt Tabbai and Naomi Wolf will have the movie that they would like to see. I am at odds with them and most posters here who see Bigelow's film as pro-US propaganda. The film I saw imbues every frame with moral ambiguity and left the audience in stunned silence. I can hardly imagine the audience reaction Tabbai describes here. Viewers are used to the thrill of cinematic violence and ZDT offers little of that. Rather we see torture as a form of bureaucracy the banality of evil. OBL's assassination is brutal and repulsive yet detached, hardly heroic. A film that clearly condemns torture and holds the American people accountable - a Michael Moore film- will be a valuable addition to the archive of our history. But I think Bigelow has done something far more difficult in making a strange and compelling film that captures our nation's moral malaise.
 
 
+2 # Richard B. 2013-01-18 13:40
Kcassidy50: Your comments will not be applauded by many of the commentors on this thread but then virtually none of them, according to their own remarks, have seen the film or intend to do so. This is the equivalent of censors vowing to keep Huck Finn out of schools because of the used of the N word. I have seen the film and agree with your remarks. The film is neither jingoistic nor propangada and I see it as a condemnation of the Bush era torture methds rather than an approval of them. The subtleties cannot be appreciated if one has not seen the film but only heard about it. It is as compelling and thought provoking as Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" which was also imbued with "moral ambiguity". I prefer to see a film or read a book before sounding off as to its value or meaning.
 
 
+8 # crct2004 2013-01-18 09:18
I thought this movie was a very bad idea when I first heard of it and Mr. Taibbi confirms this - very sad.
 
 
+2 # MendoChuck 2013-01-18 13:32
Upward and Onward Through The Fog . . . .

1. America moves Forward?
2. America moves Downward?
3. America moves Backward?
4. America moves Upward?

In the end the choice will be yours and yours alone.
Who did you vote for in 2008 and 2012?
Me . . . I voted for a change of direction and my vote wasn't even mentioned in the count . . . . Sigh!
 
 
-4 # ghostperson 2013-01-18 14:11
I understand that I am supposed to care about torture despite the spectacle of deranged animals beheading Daniel Pearl and videotaping it for shock value.

I understand that I am supposed to care about torture despite the slaughter of over 3,000 people in the Twin Towers.

I understand that I am supposed to care about torture despite our embassies and ships being bombed and ambassadors and sailors killed.

I understand that I am supposed to care about torture despite planes being blown up over Scotland.

I am unabashedly liberal but that fact doesn't erase my primal need to see consequences for crimes committed against us. This country has a felony murder rule: even if you don't commit the homicide but are part and parcel of the actors who do, you are guilty of murder.

We had no business in Iraq. Our government has long since overstayed its pretextual need to remain in Afghanistan.

I assume my sang froid is because we are lied to so frequently by what we laughingly call leaders, that our government fucks up everything and everyone it touches and allows financial predators to eat us alive and the Kochs to poison us, that a show of "consequences" for something important, bin Laden's death, no matter how obtained, represents a pound of flesh for something, since there are so few consequences for epic wrongdoers.

This is not the bleeding heart I am supposed to have but it is an admission and explanation of why I don't care.
 
 
+8 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-01-18 20:15
Yeah, we're lied to, all right. And if you believe Building 7 fell without any help from human hands, you've swallowed the lies that keep the system moving, and your need for revenge is the engine that sends young men and women to kill and die in foreign lands, men and women AND children who have had nothing to do with your pain or anyone's pain here.
 
 
0 # ghostperson 2013-01-19 17:11
I have swallowed nothing because I no longer believe anyone in government. The only certainty I have is that I will be lied to when the truth would serve just as well.

By no means would I send waves of young Americans to die in foreign lands for nothing.

If we are attacked, I would send smart, well-trained, precise, lethal Navy Seal volunteers to do the precise job to be done in lieu of waves of youth to be fodder for old men's wars on behalf of the military industrial complex and Big Oil.

I was born the year after WWII ended. We are still on the hook for WWII today with our presence in Europe.

In the period since WWII, I have lived through the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the Gulf War and now a perpetual state of war for the U.S. in the middle east; the longest war in the history of the U.S. That is enough war for anyone's lifetime, especially, when it kills our young and diverts our taxes to ends that do not benefit us domestically. We are fighting on behalf of Big Oil Luddites instead of developing alternative energy sources.

War is dead end spending. It produces nothing to put back into the economy to create products, jobs and sales. It produces corpses and disabled Vets that the government forgets about as soon as they are home. Viet Nam vets were shunned. Current vets are not treated commensurately with their sacrifices.

The Israelis have a saying, "retaliation swift and sure." I am not a neo-con. Nor am I Jewish.
 
 
+4 # flippancy 2013-01-19 01:08
ghost, the problem is not that those who struck us shouldn't be punished, it's thaat torture almost never works. It gets the answers you want, not the truth. The actual intelligence that helped us catch bin Laden came from FBI agents who allowed themselves to establish a respectful relationship with their subjects. People respond to respect far better than to torture.
 
 
+1 # ghostperson 2013-01-19 17:33
Flippancy: Thanks for acknowledging the basic concept of crime and punishment which was my actual point.

I am not saying that we must use torture or that it is always appropriate nor am I especially comfortable with the fact of it.

Certain acts had a profound impact on me. We are all scarred by 9/11 in our own way. To me, the images of bin Laden laughing with glee at his greater than expected success in the face of our national misery and cowards video taping beheadings of American non-combatants whose hands are tied, erased something in me.

As I remarked to lowflyinlolana, my preference is rapid, precise response by those who do it best. If it is good intelligence, which I believe it is, then that is the way to go. There can be no single model of action but an array.

I should probably modify my first remarks to say that administrations that are too stupid to respond in an appropriate/eff icient way should be barred under pain of criminal penalty from using any form of duress. There was simply no excuse for Abu Grehb [Sp].

For us to claim the moral high ground before the world grates me to no end. Our leaders are high-minded hypocrits with low-down purposes.
 
 
+6 # davegowdey 2013-01-19 19:10
ghost: I was NOT scarred by 9/11. It was an act of terrorism - like so many that have happened in recent times. What scarred me was how the American public became a bunch of scared, whiney little babies and gave up 200 years worth of hard fought rights almost overnight to facist politicians who continue to use that act as a bloody shirt to scare the American public and justify our atrocities. When the Nazi butcher Heydrich was assasinated in Lidice -the German response was swift and certain. They killed everyone and destroyed the village. In doing so, they highlighted why their regime had to be destroyed. I don't know of anyone who doesn't want the animals that beheaded innocent victims, or who planned 9/11 and numerous other acts of terror, brought to justice. But if we want that done at any cost - then we are no better than those who destroyed Lidice. We killed more than 100,000 Iraqis in response to 9/11, and thousands more in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. Most were innocents. When you say that there has to be an array of action - I say that array has to have limits, and that torture is over that line. This is not a topic for ambiguity - because if we are capable of maiming and killing one person in the name of "justice" we are capable of killing and maiming a village work, or a nation's worth, of people. Like the Nazis, that makes us the evil that has to be destroyed. We can't give up our humanity in pursuit of revenge or the terrorists win.
 
 
+3 # ghostperson 2013-01-20 01:06
Davegowdey: I did not become a whiney little baby but, in fact, quite resolute. If I am attacked, I will fight back in kind.

I resent our government for hyping and using fear as a weapon against us. The twin towers didn't need hyping.

Did anyone give permission to the government to eradicate our 4th and 5th amendments rights under the Patriot Act. No, because we were never asked.

It is appalling that so many, due to social media, have so sense that they should have a right to freedom from government surveillance, manipulation and use of police powers against private citizens at the behest of a corporatists that now control the ship of state.

Iraq? That was a policy decision to abuse government powers and tax money to benefit corporatist interests. We should never have been there.

An array of options allows measured justice.

Since you have taken killing in the name of justice off the table when we are attacked, what do your propose we do in response if attacked?

Our society kills one person in the name of justice all the time. It's called the death penalty and there is much debate about it.

We slid off the moral cliff a long time ago. The only way our leaders would have humanity is to receive it by Federal Express.

Meanwhile they will continue to stick our noses in places where we have no business being and tell us it is for a vital interest. It is: Big Money.
 
 
+1 # Remex 2013-01-19 03:13
Is there any evidence that those who are not Islamophobic become so after watching the film, or those opposed to torture are transformed into advocates? It seems to me Matt’s response is more typical, although better analysed and more cogently expressed than most, and the effect is to arouse certain emotions that are then released, grounded like lightening, in a process both cathartic and purifying. I have wondered if certain types of pornography may perform the same function.
 
 
+3 # innerealm 2013-01-19 14:25
This is a wonderful article but just for the record, they don't have movie theaters in Riyadh...or anywhere else in Saudi Arabia.
 
 
+3 # TrustMovies 2013-01-19 14:27
Haven't yet seen this film but I will eventually. What I wonder is: How does Bigelow's movie come to terms with our torture of all those people who didn't actually have any real information to give. They may have been suspected, but they didn't know any answers because they were innocent. This is the real problem with torturing suspects. And the real movie that deals with this is RENDITION, from 2007, a much better film than it was given credit for being at the time of its release. Those raving about Zero Dark 30 should be strapped down, toothpicks holding open their eyelids, and forced to watch this one. Maybe someday we'll see the two films on a repertory theater's double bill.
 
 
+7 # fedupinredmond 2013-01-20 10:12
Thanks Matt, this article reminded me once again why you are one of my all time favorite journalists. Don't ever stop trying to reset America's moral compass. When journalists like you throw in the towel then we, as a country, will indeed be lost in the our own collective "dark night of the soul
 
 
+2 # jaycee 2013-01-20 11:00
I wish I could donate - living on a shoestring, but I'll continue to email great articles like this that tell the "truth" and remind us of the consequences of torture and the results of ignoring our true "values. Thanks Matt and RSN
 
 
+5 # Edwina 2013-01-20 12:07
Taibi's review makes me want to see Katheryn Bigelow's other films, but I did not want to see this one. There has rarely been a movie about war that did not present it as spectacle, if not heroic. "Apocolypse Now" comes to mind. It prevents us from experiencing the actual grimness, dirt, and the lack of morality needed to conduct mass killing. The capture and killing of Sadam Hussein and bin Laden were so seedy, so un-heroic, that it was revolting to watch our national leaders respond as if they were at a football game. Or playing a video game. Is it any wonder that the Muslim world would doubt our fitness to lead the world?
 
 
+3 # Scott479 2013-01-20 18:42
bin Laden's a PNAC'ers wet dream.
 
 
+3 # karenvista 2013-01-20 23:01
errata:

Fbi agent Ali Soufanacquired actionable intelligence from abu Zubaydah without torture but when the CIA tortured him he shut up.

Maya means "illusion" in Sanskrit.

9:30am 8/15/11 Breaking NOW: FBI Agent Just Revealed that the “Osama bin Laden” Body Had the WRONG Fingerprints — by Norman B (“Deviations from the Norm”)

C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, author and retired FBI Agent Ronald Kessler, just revealed that the person called “Osama bin Laden” who was Assassinated by Navy Seals did not have Osama bin Laden’s fingerprints, which were on file with the FBI. This may explain why the Navy Seals destroyed the body with a “traditional sea burial.”
 

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