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Moore writes: "There comes a point about two-thirds of the way through Zero Dark Thirty where it is clear something, or someone, on high has changed."

Portrait, Michael Moore, 04/03/09. (photo: Ann-Christine Poujoulat/Getty Images)
Portrait, Michael Moore, 04/03/09. (photo: Ann-Christine Poujoulat/Getty Images)

In Defense of Zero Dark Thirty

By Michael Moore, Reader Supported News

25 January 13


here comes a point about two-thirds of the way through Zero Dark Thirty where it is clear something, or someone, on high has changed. The mood at the CIA has shifted, become subdued. It appears that the torture-approving guy who's been president for the past eight years seems to be, well, gone. And, just as a fish rots from the head down, the stench also seems to be gone. Word then comes down that - get this! - we can't torture any more! The CIA agents seem a bit disgruntled and dumbfounded. I mean, torture has worked soooo well these past eight years! Why can't we torture any more???

The answer is provided on a TV screen in the background where you see a black man (who apparently is the new president) and he's saying, in plain English, that America's torturing days are over, done, finished. There's an "aw, shit" look on their faces and then some new boss comes into the meeting room, slams his fist on the table and says, essentially, you've had eight years to find bin Laden - and all you've got to show for it are a bunch of photos of naked Arab men peeing on themselves and wearing dog collars and black hoods. Well, he shouts, those days are over! There's no secret group up on the top floor looking for bin Laden, you're it, and goddammit do your job and find him.

He is there to put the fear of God in them, probably because his boss, the new president, has (as we can presume) on his first day in office, ordered that bin Laden be found and killed. Unlike his frat boy predecessor who had little interest in finding bin Laden (even to the point of joking that "I really just don't spend that much time on him"), this new president was not an imbecile and all about business. Go find bin Laden - and don't use torture. Torture is morally wrong. Torture is the coward's way. C'mon - we're smart, we're the USA, and you're telling me we can't find a six-and-a-half-foot tall Saudi who's got a $25 million bounty on his head? Use your brains (like I do) and, goddammit, get to work!

And then, as the movie shows, the CIA abruptly shifts from torture porn to - are you sitting down? - detective work. Like cops do to find killers. Bin Laden was a killer - a mass killer - not a general of an army of soldiers, or the head of a country call Terrorstan. He was a crazed religious fanatic, a multi-millionaire, and a punk who was part of the anti-Soviet mujahideen whom we trained, armed and funded in Afghanistan back in the '80s. But he was a godsend and a very useful tool to the Dick Cheneys and Don Rumsfields of the world. They could hold him up to a frightened American public and scare the bejesus out of everyone - and everyone (well, most everyone) would then get behind the effort to declare war on, um ... well ... Who exactly do we declare war against? Oh, right - terrorism! The War on Terrorism! So skilled were the men from Halliburton, et al. that they convinced the Congress and the public to go to war against a noun. Terrorism. People fell for it, and these rich men and their friends made billions of dollars from "contracting" and armaments and a Burger King on every Iraqi base. Billions more were made creating a massive internal spying apparatus called "Homeland Security." Business was very, very good, and as long as the bogeyman (Osama) was alive, the citizenry would not complain one bit.

I think you know what happens next. In the final third of Zero Dark Thirty, the agents switch from torture to detective work - and guess what happens? We find bin Laden! Eight years of torture - no bin Laden. Two years of detective work - boom! Bin Laden!

And that really should be the main takeaway from Zero Dark Thirty: That good detective work can bring fruitful results - and that torture is wrong.

Much of the discussion and controversy around the film has centered on the belief that the movie shows, or is trying to say, that torture works. They torture a guy for years and finally, while having a friendly lunch with him one day, they ask him if he would tell them the name of bin Laden's courier. Either that, or go back and be tortured some more. He says he doesn't know the guy but he knows his fake name and he gives them that name. The name turns out to be correct. Torture works!

But then we learn a piece of news: The CIA has had the name of this guy all along! For ten years! And how did they get this name ten years ago? From "a tip." A random tip! No torture involved. But, as was the rule during those years of incompetency and no desire to find bin Laden, the tip was filed away somewhere in some room - and not discovered until 2010. So, instead of torturing hundreds for eight years to find this important morsel of intelligence, they could have found it in their own CIA file cabinet in about eight minutes. Yeah, torture works.

In the movie, after they have the name of the courier, they then believe if they find him, they find bin Laden. So how do they find him? They bribe a Kuwaiti informant with a new car. That's right, they find the number of the courier's family by giving the guy a Lamborghini. And what do they do when they find the courier's mother? Do they kidnap and torture her to find out where her son is? Nope, they just listen in on his weekly call home to Mom, and through that, they trace him to Pakistan and then hire a bunch of undercover Pakistani Joe Fridays to follow this guy's every move - which, then, leads them to the infamous compound in Abbottabad where the Saudi punk has holed up.

Nice police work, boys!

Oh - and girl. 'Zero Dark Thirty - a movie made by a woman (Kathryn Bigelow), produced by a woman (Megan Ellison), distributed by a woman (Amy Pascal, the co-chairman of Sony Pictures), and starring a woman (Jessica Chastain) is really about how an agency of mostly men are dismissive of a woman who is on the right path to finding bin Laden. Yes, guys, this is a movie about how we don't listen to women, how hard it is for them to have their voice heard even in these enlightened times. You could say this is a 21st century chick flick - and it would do you well to see it.

But back to the controversy and the torture. I guess where I part with most of my friends who are upset at this film is that they are allowing the wrong debate to take place. You should NEVER engage in a debate where the other side defines the terms of the debate - namely, in this case, to debate "whether torture works." You should refuse to participate in that discussion because the real question should be, simply, "is torture wrong?" And, after watching the brutal behavior of CIA agents for the first 45 minutes of the film, I can't believe anyone of conscience would conclude anything other than that this is morally NOT right. You will be repulsed by these torture scenes because, make no mistake about it, this has been done in your name and mine and with our tax dollars. We funded this.

If you allow the question to be "did torture work?" then you'll lose because yes, if you torture someone who actually has the information, they will eventually give it to you. The problem is, the other 99 who don't know anything will also tell you anything to get you to stop torturing - but their information is wrong. How do you know which one of the 100 is the man with the goods? You don't.

But let's grant the other side that maybe, occasionally, torture "works." Here's what else will work: castrating pedophiles. Why don't we do that? Probably because we think it's morally wrong. The death penalty sure works. Put a murderer in a gas chamber and I can guarantee you he'll never murder again. But is it right? Do we accomplish the ends we seek by becoming the murderers ourselves? That should be our only question.

After I saw Zero Dark Thirty, a friend asked me, "During the torture scenes, who did you feel empathy for the most - the American torturer or the Arab suspect?" That was easy to answer. "Oh, God, the poor guy being waterboarded. The torturer was a sadist."

"Yes, that's the answer everyone gives me afterward. The movie actually makes you care for the tortured guys who may have, in fact, been part of 9/11. Like rooting for the Germans on the submarine to make it back to port in Das Boot, that's the sign of some great filmmaking when the writer and director are able to get you to empathize with the person you've been told everywhere else to hate."

Zero Dark Thirty is a disturbing, fantastically-made movie. It will make you hate torture. And it will make you happy you voted for a man who stopped all that barbarity - and who asked that the people over at Langley, like him, use their brains.

And that's what worked.

P.S. One final thought. I've heard fellow lefties say that even if the filmmakers didn't intend to endorse torture (Bigelow called torture "reprehensible" on Colbert the other night), the average person watching the movie is going to take it the wrong way. I believe it is the responsibility of the filmmaker attempting to communicate something that they do so clearly and skillfully (and you can decide for yourself if Bigelow and Boal did so. For me, they did.). But I never blame the artist for failing to dumb down their work so that the lesser minds among us "get it." Should Springsteen not have named his album Born in the USA because some took it to be as a salute to patriotism (Reagan wanted to use it in his 1984 reelection campaign but Bruce said no)? your social media marketing partner


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+99 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-01-25 15:48
Well hell, St. Michael, you Irish devil (takes one to know one), you, if anyone, should know a great, well made movie/documenta ry.

I confess, in days past, before putting on a legal hat and still wearing my old journalist's hat, I did use similar means of communicating, for example, use of the headline "Smog - What Smog?", then letting it rip and educating folks, with visuals, re. the horrors of smog, smog, smog. I learned while getting my degree in journ/comm, that the best way to get folks who probably will oppose what you have to say, to look and listen and not tune you out from the get go, is to not take an extremely strong stand in the heading (i.e. Evil Torture Sucks), but rather to slowly but surely do more subtle convincing, such as showing the horrors of evil torture, and permitting the viewer to identify with the dreadful pain. Often, such subtle but at the same time truth telling visuals (seeing terrible smog or evil torture is worth a thousand words), can persuade viewers that, indeed, torture is evil plus.

From what you have described, sounds like this film is going to entice viewership of viewers with a variety of takes on torture, and, hopefully, cause many of them to take off blinders re. the horror of evil torture.
+15 # seefeellove 2013-01-26 08:58
"Do we accomplish the ends we seek by becoming the murderers ourselves?" For me, this question clears up the argument.

The other question that could give us a perspective on removing aggression, ignorance, and hatred would be: "What are the ways we can be our own best friend and emanate that self-compassion toward other sentient beings and experience the sacred in all, from cleaning our bathroom and neighborhood to smiling at everyone and inviting our neighbors and legislators over for a cup of tea and chocolate cake?" Hopefully, the tea and cake is organic and local.
+24 # Allen 23 2013-01-26 14:30
You know what inconvenient facts Bigelow, Boal, et al. left out of the movie? Just about everything about bin Laden, terrorism, and American foreign policy that didn't fit the standard US-government-l ed narrative of the war on terror.

There are no coincidences in film-making. They didn't just so happen decide to throw torture in this movie because "it happened". If they wanted to show everything that 'happened', the film would have started in the late '70s. It would have have shown the mujahideen, US support for corrupt and oppressive monarchs in the Middle East, the situation with Israel and Palestine, and other parts of the history of events. It would have shown US airstrikes on weddings and funerals, drones killing rescuers, and the orphans, widows, and disfigured who often end up joining the cause of al Qaeda and other groups.

But then it would have been relegated to independent film festivals and art house theatres, it probably would have been made on six-figures at best, and Bigelow wouldn't have had anything to do with it. Whoever the director was would never have been granted CIA access, and would certainly be branded a terrorist-appea ser. No one could defend the film on the grounds it was "just a movie", or that critics "didn't understand art".

Either way, all the incentives are in place to make sure no one who asks the truly important questions gets the kind of play ZDT has.
+3 # khidr786 2013-01-28 17:49
...absolutely, You said it all...
-246 # Innocent Victim 2013-01-25 17:33
I don't pay attention to media "progressives" who supported Obama's re-election. Another is Bill Maher. He is said to have given one-million $s to an Obama PAC. Maher is not just a clown-fool but a political one. Same with Moore!
+91 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-01-26 01:55
My brother-in-law, interesting guy, is a real rocket scientist. He does carbon molecular research. One day he and I were discussing the concept of "God." His answer, "God is truth." Here are two influential men, Moore and Maher whom you, #Innocent Victim, apparently despise. Both speak the truth. Why do you despise the truth? P.J O'Rourke made a comment on Bill Maher's show: "Torture has nothing to do with accessing the truth." Some humans will always be animals, sadists.
+25 # genierae 2013-01-26 10:03
Thank you Mr. Bloedorn, you put that very well.
-50 # Innocent Victim 2013-01-26 10:40
I disdain Maher and Moore for their political choice: to support the re-election of the worst president of our dismal presidential history. They should have encouraged thinking voters to vote for a third party candidate. Both Obama and Romney are servants of the plutocracy. Get ready for tar-sands oil!
-10 # Allen 23 2013-01-26 16:31
Good post.
+22 # Cassandra2012 2013-01-26 18:30
The worst? You mean you loved Darth Cheney's puppet Dimiwit II?
+2 # rockieball 2013-01-27 10:07
Then I ask if you disdain then why did you read this article instead of just delete it? Seems to me that fact that you read it contradicts your disdain for Mr. Moore or that fact that you listen to or read Maher proves the same. Me if I do not like an author or an actor or a TV program I avoid reading them, watching them or listening to them.
+4 # genierae 2013-01-27 17:13
Every time I try to listen to a Republican talk, I get nauseated. I just can't stand it, they are so toxic.
+5 # dankes 2013-01-28 09:07
Obama against torture? A rhetorical bone for the liberals to chew on while extraordinary rendition continues;lets outsource terror. Incarcerate Manning while the mass murderers revealed by wikileaks ( see collateral damage if you have doubts} are allowed to be free. Yoo and the C.I.A. were let off the hook for torture by the justice department, and Obama continues mass murder from above with Drone warfare. Friendlier fascism , better rationalization s, evil with a more human face.
+1 # Glen 2013-01-28 09:31
dankes, folks either don't know about all this or they choose to continue the game, not knowing which way to turn. Everybody needs a hero, sort of thing.

Just as republicans do, many democrats focus on one or two issues, and concern themselves only with who wins. Rah rah rah.
-1 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:13
Oh yawn...another rant by someone still living in his mother's basement.
+3 # Scotty44 2013-01-26 12:39
What truth were they speaking if they indorsed Obama for a second term? That Obama will continue to use extraordinary rendition of people to countries that torture? That he will declare wealthy people too big to jail? That he will refuse to apply the Dodd-Frank bill to the TBTF? That he will nominate a woman to head the SEC that used insider influence with the SEC to protect a wealthy insider trader? That he will nominate a failed WS financier to head Treasury? That he will nominate a torture insider to head the CIA? If the guy isn't working for the Mafia and the CIA, he's not maximizing his income. Surely, they would pay him for what he's doing. He has kept the country exposed for the next financial and torture disaster. But given what was known prior to these latest steps, I wouldn't have blamed anyone for endorsing Obama over Romney, unless all who listen to them lived in safely blue states.
+72 # bmolloy124 2013-01-26 05:05
One problem in calling attention to media "progressives" who "supported Obama's re-election"..

Obama appears to have been re-elected by popular and electoral vote. While it may not have been a "landslide" which re-elected him, the President did win the election decisively...du ring a time when the economy (economy is said to be the main criteria deciding elections) was quite 'sketchy.'

As to "media progressives".. Newspapers (objective reportage) are all but a bygone. Yet, bandwidth devoted to "talk news" continues to be healthy, even growing.. exept not healthy for any voice outside right wing. In fact, all mainstream media, t.v. and radio, is now owned by and dominatated by 'conservatives. ' Luckily digital media may soon make all the above obsolete. Even as Koch Brothers, et., al, try to buy up all media, including internet, digital media continues to 'morph' in ways making it hard for monied monopolies to keep up.

That's democracy in its most organic and irrefutable form, I'm afraid. Giving one-million (Bill Maher) is nothing, I'm sure you're aware, compared to what the monied monopolistic interests (sorry but they're all on the right) give to their candidates at the State and Federal level(s). We're talking hundreds of millions.

But, and... they didn't win this election.. regardless of monopoly on all media except MSNBC... and no little amount of voter suppression thrown in.

Yea democracy.
-19 # Innocent Victim 2013-01-26 07:59
bmolloy124: If we were a democracy, I should be more ashamed of what my country has done under Obama and Bush II than I am - if that were possible.
+2 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:17
I think you're projecting your own self-shame onto a big nameless entity (The USA)in order to keep from accepting responsibility for your state of being.
+22 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-01-26 13:50
I think Bill Maher, others like Laurence O'Donnell are not in the business of sending ice cream by mail. The Republicans found out that so much of what they did to win the presidential election backfired. We most all know voter suppression by Republicans in some states caused more voters to turn out. Benjamen Franklin: "Moderation-avo id extremes." As people become more math and science educated the Republican Party will greatly help to destroy itself by their own extreme thoughts and actions. And the guy named "Skeeter" who sits on his front lawn with his shotgun waiting to protect himself from the imaginary Obama's black army will die off in time.
+18 # Merschrod 2013-01-26 08:46
Inno, so you did not like the article? but at least you hung in there and listened - you must be open minded. That is a good start.
-31 # Innocent Victim 2013-01-26 10:28
Merschrod: You did not read my comments. I pay no attention to media "progressives" like Michael Moore. I did not read his article. I have nothing but contempt for all supporters of Barack Obama, since he was a US senator.
If his idolizers had supported third party candidates, the Democratic Party would have developed differently since then.
+11 # WestWinds 2013-01-26 09:03
The first four words about covers it...
-36 # Innocent Victim 2013-01-26 10:31
I feel gratified by every negative vote. Thank you, one and all! :)
+4 # genierae 2013-01-27 17:16
Here, have another helping.
+4 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:18
Yeah, this "victim/martyr" pose is really weak.
+3 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:12
Then why did you bother to not only read this column but then to take the time to post something in it. You do realize that by posting something here it registers as a "support vote" for this column....right ?
+75 # Activista 2013-01-25 21:00
"Billions more were made creating a massive internal spying apparatus called "Homeland Security."
thanks Miko - and growing and growing under Obama/Clinton ...
+21 # Merschrod 2013-01-26 08:51
Acti, I would prefer that the agency be called "Homeland Insecurity." It makes folks feel insecure especially as you go day after day through the long TSA lines. You certainly fear that the State apparatus will make your day for you.
This is a bi-partisan deal that needs to be scrapped in the budget cuts. Of course it was a great employment generator and helped the shrub out in that way too only to help O'Bama in his struggle with employment.
+23 # Activista 2013-01-26 13:01
Agree - Homeland (aka Fatherland) security is essential to any totalitarian sregime.
I could be on the list - not first time in my life.
Makes insecure people "secure" by promoting FEAR - to manipulate
+2 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:20
The FATHERLAND???? Please, you haven't a clue as to what you're talking about. Talk to survivors of the "FATHERLAND" (if there are any still alive) and you will be shamed.
+18 # sandyb 2013-01-25 22:46
actually, castrating pedophiles does not work.
+18 # WestWinds 2013-01-26 09:09
Just letting them run loose under Right-wing, let's close all the mental hospitals because we're not in the business of hospitals, mentality doesn't work, either.
+12 # genierae 2013-01-26 10:11
Pedophiles are deeply disturbed individuals, usually the victims of sexual abuse themselves. They need to be in a mental institution receiving long-term therapy. They are reviled by this puritan society, therefore they find themselves in a vicious circle, from crime to doing hard time, back to crime. I'm not excusing them, I'm just saying that we need to treat them differently if we want better results.
+8 # mim 2013-01-26 10:49
To give another example: Child abuse, physical and emotional, is a horrible evil, and I'm sure we could prevent some of it by planting recording devices in the homes and cars of all multigeneration al households. But if we went there, what sort of society would we be? We must simply try our best to protect children in a manner worthy of civilized people.

Thank you, Michael Moore, for your filmmaker's take on Zero Dark Thirty. It's now on my short list of current films to see. The only question now is whether I'm too squeamish to watch the torture scenes.
+24 # jsheats 2013-01-25 23:05
I really appreciate this commentary. In the end, this is a movie (a fictional drama), not a documentary, and it should be taken to mean what we get from it as art. From all the controversy it does seem clear that the art was first class. Moore makes a compelling case; I may even see the movie someday!
+5 # Skyelav 2013-01-25 23:20
So innocent whom do you support. Bush & Co?
+4 # Innocent Victim 2013-01-26 11:03
Obama IS Bush & Co! He has outdone Bush on every violation of our Bill of Rights, oath of office, and in every war crime that Bush committed - and then some. Where have you been since January, 2009?
+1 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:23
Oh for the love of........Where have you been? Are you saying President Obama has started 2 wars based on lies and sent thousands of American men and women into harms way? Are you saying President Obama cut taxes for the rich and their companies? Grow up Innocent'r e just a victim of your own immaturity.
-35 # jfetzer 2013-01-25 23:24
I find it embarrassing -- even dumbfounding -- that even Michael Moore knows no more about "Zero Dark Thirty" than that torture is wrong and that one could draw the inference that it is indefensible. He does not know that Osama bin Laden died on 15 December 2001 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Afghanistan, where local obituaries appeared. Even FOX News would report it a few months later. He was "our man in Afghanistan" and had nothing to do with 9/11. If someone of this man's stature doesn't know the facts about the fabricated raid on the compound in Pakistan, it is little wonder we are in such a state of massive ignorance. For the real reasons this film is a fraud, see
+9 # Glen 2013-01-26 08:28
jfetzer, for too long, Americans have eschewed any criticism of the attack on the world trade center or a lack of investigation - public investigation. There has been PLENTY of investigation, which has been swept away by the government and by those who consider it "conspiracy theory". That defensiveness blinds everyone to even the murder of some fellow and claiming him to be bin Laden, as you say.

If bin Laden were truly guilty of the attack on the world trade center, then why could he not be arrested and other criminals - criminals guilty of far worse crimes and killings - and taken in. Hell, even Milosevic was taken in for trial. (He didn't make it to trial of course, and neither did his aide. They knew too much.)

I'm with you. He was dead, the U.S. carried out money making crimes, brainwashed citizens and divided them over this enterprise, lied through their teeth, and now has accepted and lauded a movie about the lie.

Any who believe torture has ended are delusional. It has and always will be a part of U.S. covert ops.
+12 # Cassandra2012 2013-01-26 18:33
Bush let Osama's family fly out on 9/11, even when NO ONE else was allowed to fly! ... .
+13 # Glen 2013-01-26 08:47
I did read the article you posted. A good one. Having read reams of materials, watched the DVDs on the research on the trade center, books, you name it, it appears this fellow has done the same, along with his first hand experiences.

The U.S. is one country that wallows in war and war movies, regardless of the lies. The myth concerning the Alamo pretty much introduced future myths such as bin Laden and al Qaida.
-19 # larrypayne 2013-01-26 08:47
I think Michael Moore does know the Bin Laden assassination is a hoax. He, like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart favor their pocketbooks over truth. This video by an on-the-street BBC reporter in Abbottabad
reveals that only one in over 50 interviewed thought the man killed was Bin Laden.

The old man shown in the CIA supplied video who is supposed to be Bin Laden is holding the TV remote in his right hand.
Bin Laden was left-handed.
+2 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:31
If I didn't know any better, I would think I was reading a neo-con post-board. The things you guys believe in and the evidence you use is laughable.
+4 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 19:58
I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with anything other than this one statement about the TV remote, but just for the record, I am right-handed and I often use my left hand to operate the remote control.
-1 # barryg 2013-01-26 22:16
Why so many negatives. This post is true. The evidence is readily available. Get your heads out of the sand. I learned during three tours in Nam that whatever the government tells you about war is propaganda. You have to take the time to investigate on your own.

In fact Benizir Bhutto talked about Osama's death on a David Frost interview about 6 months before she was assassinated. Bush di not chase Osama because 1. he knew he was dead and 2. if he were alive, he was a Bush family friend. Osama had serious kidney illness. He was visited by hei CIA friends at the American Hospital in Bahrain in August 2001 just before. 9/11. Please turn your brains back on
+3 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:25
Ah well if FOX News, whom we know to be a dependable news source, reported it, then it must be true.
+12 # kandotom 2013-01-26 00:43
I too, must come to the defense of this excellent movie. As I point out in my article “A Review of the Movie "Zero Dark Thirty," The film is a well-crafted, naturalistic narrative with no axe to grind. While it addresses the torture issue, it does not condone the practice. It merely documents it. The torture issue is not central to the movie. The central theme is the Maya character, and her superhuman determination to achieve her goal.
+1 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:34
Thank you for your sense of reality/and your down to earth perspective. Especially after reading all the other posts that are absolutely in the same realm as President Obama's birth certificate.
+1 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 19:56
Right, the movie centers around a superhuman heroine who just happens to be an unapologetic torturer. That's not condoning the practice?
+16 # davidschandler 2013-01-26 01:24
I can't get past the fact that 9/11 had to have been orchestrated by insiders in the US (see The fact that they bagged some guy and dumped him in the ocean without any opportunity for forensics is completely consistent with this reality. Bin Laden has been kept alive for years past his physical death as a mythical boogy man, to justify anything the Bush administration wanted to justify. What Obama accomplished by "killing Bin Laden" is to put an end to the myth. Ironically, by going along with the myth and bringing it to its own mythological conclusion he was able to eliminate it without having to confront the myth/lie head on. That is no reason, however, for the rest of us to keep believing the lie.
+12 # larrypayne 2013-01-26 09:05

Thanks for your excellent video analysis of the Towers being imploded. I don't think any intelligent person could watch those and not realize it was an inside job.
Michael Moore must have seen them. So why does he still defend the lies?

"The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the greatest liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth." ... H.L. Mencken
+4 # Dr Peter Sloane 2013-01-26 01:57
I too watched totlally absorbed for three and a half hours (seemed life one and a half) this totlaay brilliant film. I suspect that it won't win the accolades it so richly deserves at the Oscars as it doesn't reflect American forces or trhe CIA in a very good light at all for over half the film (Lincoln does that - another great watch) and did I leave with an up-lifted heart and spirit? sorry America but I did not. But what a piece of film making. Well done Ms Bigelow and all concerned for making this masterpiece.
-65 # Vern Radul 2013-01-26 02:08
Michael NoMore, the Obama apologist. Spamblocked. Un-friended. Un-liked.
+19 # Diareo Knabo 2013-01-26 02:36
I have not seen this film yet. But after Michael's commentary here, I just might do so after all.

One thing: Torture is not only on foreign soil. It is indeed going on right here in Amerika! The food industry is dumping tonnes of sodium and sugar in tinned products -- knowing full well who the majority of people who eat them and die from heart disease and diabetes complicationgs really are -- the POOR!

In California SSI recipents have been denied basic preventative dental care for four years and still on-going now. Some of the private medical insurance corporations are even denying those on SSI EMERGENCY PAIN MANAGEMENT CARE they desperately need! Thus being needlessly 'tortured' with excruciating toothaches and other related problems which indeed as dental is systemic with other medical problems can lead to DEATH! So PLEASE don't ever tell me that the US or some state governments do not torture the poor within the borders of this very country!

Dental care or the lack of it has become the 'Achilles Heel' for the poor in this country and they are DYING PAINFUL DEATHS! That should NEVER happen in America¨ SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!
+3 # WestWinds 2013-01-26 09:21
I agree. And the horror of it is that even if you do manage to get to a dentist, they aren't trustworthy; they pad their bills and do terrible things like punch holes in the enamel to promote problems, they rig teeth so you get abscesses, and/or they flatly refuse services even though you have dearly paid them. I can back up every one of these assertions. The dental community is complicit with the internal take-down of America.
+4 # Scotty44 2013-01-26 12:55
Especially with their promotion of mercury fillings.
+22 # wrodwell 2013-01-26 04:43
Most Media comments I've read or heard about the film condemned it for seemingly "justifying" torture, since such brutal and sadistic acts comprised a large portion of the film. Based on those reviews and comments, I thought the filmmakers were irresponsible - and worse. I vowed not to see the film because if it did justify torture, I pictured Dick Cheney fingering his shotgun at his ranch in Wyoming chortling "I told you so!" And who'd want to give the Dark Prince of Torture that kind of satisfaction?
However, after reading Michael Moore's review, it caused me to reflect on the previous ones, none of which explained that when the torture stopped and genuine investigation began, that was what led to the finding and killing of Bin Laden. The light went on and the torture scenes now made sense cinematically.
As a filmmaker himself, Michael Moore's review was more understanding of what the filmmakers were trying to say. Their use of an elliptical strategy to sear the sadism on display into the audience's psyches, demonstrated that torture is not only morally wrong but ineffective as well. I now plan to see the film as soon as possible.
I wish I'd read Michael Moore's review first; it's clearly more comprehensive and reliable than the others, and I probably would've seen the film by now had I done so. So much for my "rush to judgement" moment which was based on "bad initial intelligence". Mea culpa, mea culpa; I should've known better. Benghazi, anyone?
-1 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 20:18
Nothing in this review invalidates any of the conclusions drawn by Matt Taibbi in his review. Michael Moore seems to be blinded by his hero worship of President Obama, and he has to dig very deep to find a way of considering ZD30 an anti-torture film. First off, Moore seems to be promoting the idea that Obama actually did reform the CIA and we no longer torture now, which we all know is complete b.s. Second, Moore has no comment on the fact that all of this film's information came from the CIA, and that in exchange for the filmmakers' special access, the CIA had to be allowed final approval of the film. Third, in spite of whatever the plot may portray about a shift from torture to detective work, the key piece of information that sent them down this path was gained by the threat of torture. Finally, also in spite of the actual methods that led to finding bin Laden, the main characters of this fill are all portrayed as heroes, they are all torturers, and none of them ever expresses any overt regret over their use of torture; none of them is portrayed in a negative light as a result of it. What the viewer will ultimately take away from this film is not a factual analysis of what methods did and did not work, and which were and were not moral; they will identify with the heroes of the story and leave happy that they achieved their goals (audiences have been erupting in applause at the end). I.e. they will be empathizing with unapologetic torturers.
+35 # wullen 2013-01-26 04:55
My husband & I have both been trying to figure out why everyone thought this movie proved torture worked. We didn't get that at all.
We see it as Michael does...affirmat ion that it does NOT work. And when we thought it did we lost our morality. The Bin Ladens have won every time we
gave up our precious ethics and morals and became just like them.
+17 # California Neal 2013-01-26 05:19
Thank you, Michael! Other reviews have left me very ambivalent about seeing ZD30. Now I can see it with a clear conscience. It's interesting that the other reviews missed this. Of course you're brilliant, but I think it's more a matter of being observant & having a clear mind politically.

I have to correct you on one thing: Castrating pedophiles doesn't actually work. The only kind of treatment that has a measure of success is counseling that convinces the pedophile to stay away from children.
+5 # Scotty44 2013-01-26 12:59
If all those other critics missed it, then how many of the audience will catch it?
0 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 20:23
After the myriad negative reviews from astute leftist observers, one positive review from Michael Moore completely reverses your perspective? This review is just one man's opinion, and he is not infallible. If you choose to see this movie, don't do it with a clear conscience; do it with an open mind.
+23 # CAulds 2013-01-26 05:38
For years now, it has been my fervent wish that Americans will engage each other in discussing those principles that supposedly bind them as a nation, and put aside the "wedge issue" of the day (gun control anyone?). The definition of "moral behaviour" tops that list. In no other way have Americans demonstrated a willingness to abandon their own moral principles than in their support of the use of torture.

The use of torture was nowhere near as dangerous as the widespread support of Americans for its use.

I believe it is both disgusting and disheartening that there are Americans who are still willing to take issue with this simple unequivocal statement: Americans Don't Torture!
+6 # Scotty44 2013-01-26 13:02
Because we do. They did so in Viet Nam and they have been doing so for at least the last 12 years, even if the last 4 have been out sourced.
+2 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 20:27
I highly doubt that it has been entirely outsourced. Is the CIA going to change its long-standing practices just because a new president stands up and makes a broad, self-serving statement like "Americans don't torture"? Didn't Bush make basically the same statement? The president probably doesn't have the power to stop them even if he wanted to. Look at what happened to JFK.
+24 # Charles3000 2013-01-26 05:43
Using the military to make a home invasion and kill a person in their own home is not my notion of a great American story.
+25 # larrypayne 2013-01-26 08:59
It may not be a great American story but it does reveal what America has become.
America can now proudly gun down any unarmed person who is suspected of being a terrorist without allowing that person due process of law. Bin Laden had never been proven to be guilty of any crime.
0 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:37
Except his video tapes, which were meant to scare us, where he confesses to his crimes.
0 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 20:28
which were never admitted as evidence in any court of law
+1 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:36
Except that wasn't a home. It was the headquarters of a terrorist organization that hides behind women and children.
+10 # 666 2013-01-26 07:16
quoting "I never blame the artist for failing to dumb down their work so that the lesser minds among us 'get it.'"

- that's about the only I disagree with here. I can't accept that the multibillion $$ entertainment industry is "art". yeah, once in a great while "art" slips through instead of propaganda (e.g. "300" is propaganda) or money-grubbing drivel or "real journalism" (like Moore's docs, they are journalism, not art).
+1 # Scotty44 2013-01-26 13:06
I thought, in the one about Columbine, he claimed that Canada has more guns than America. That isn't even close to being true - not even based on per capita.
+17 # Polar Bear 2013-01-26 07:50
I felt very depressed to see the women in the movie,just part of the system...they kept saying "Homeland thru it all...Sounds so Nazi like
+8 # tclose 2013-01-26 07:51
Great commentary, Michael. It will make me want to go to see it, and see if I agree with your take on this. Your take on it being quite different from many other left-of-center reviewers, so it will be interesting to see if you have been successful in redeeming this wonderfully made film.

On the other side, it will be interesting to see if the right wing reaches the same conclusion: that torture is portrayed in the film as being ineffective. Will we be subjected to the ravings of Fox News and Rush L on this "sell-out to the left"?
+22 # motamanx 2013-01-26 08:12
Bil Laden was a Bush Family friend. That was why he let his whole family leave town the day after 9/11. That was why we "missed" him at Tora Bora. That was why W said he didn't care about him anymore.
There was no way Bush would have harmed his daddy's pal.
+11 # cwbystache 2013-01-26 08:26
The whole article had my attention, but the most intriguing words of it for me were those referring to the conversation between Moore and his friend who asked for which party on either side of the water board Moore felt empathy. The answer I thought for myself would've been "both"--at least now I've read Philip Zimbardo's, "The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil". The work centered on the Stanford Prison Experiment was so revealing, so shattering to the moral superiority that I'd before that ascribed to myself in these kinds of questions, and so disturbing in other things it presented, that I often had to lay it down and then decide to go back to it. Zimbardo comes back again and again to the issue of the psyche of the torturer and the psyche of the tortured and the most rivetting section of the book dealt with those guards at Abu Ghraib; the author was called in as expert witness in the trial of one of those guards. There is in the works a film (approved by Zimbardo) on the Prison Experiment (see )
+3 # Scotty44 2013-01-26 13:10
How does it deal with the guard not being forced to be part of it? As far as I know, they can choose a different line of work.
+2 # cwbystache 2013-01-26 14:33
The soldier is ordered to be a guard by his or her superiors (all the way to the top) and likely came into the military with ethics and determination that most of the country would consider sterling, and honorable (whether they in my own truth or are not is another debate). Zimbardo's premise is that this guard starts out having no concept of his or capacity for evil or even that they have a capacity for such, and then grows into it--to the exact same degree that each of us carry that capacity and if we find ourselves in that situation, the outcome for us is likely to be the same. The book can be had in most libraries and if you do take it out, your question can be addressed to it chapter by chapter, and then addressed to the work as a whole when you finish. What you ask is essential, important, but it can't be answered in a reply here in such a forum.
+1 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:39
That sounds an awful like "I was just following order."
+1 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 20:34
Yes, that's exactly what it is, and that is one of the things that ordinary, or "good," people tell themselves when being persuaded to commit immoral acts. The idea of these works is not to excuse the subjects; it is to reveal that they could be anyone - they are not people who start out especially "evil" in some way.
+2 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 20:38
A classic work on this subject is _Ordinary Men_, a study of a group of Germans who became ethnic cleansers under the Nazi regime, how they were no different from the people of any nation, and how they were persuaded to commit such abhorrent acts.
+10 # Mainiac 2013-01-26 09:00
Moore completely overlooks the main point that is the most misleading: THE US HAS KNOWN ALL ALONG WHERE BIN LADEN WAS. There is imput from more than one source that backs this up. For example, Mid-East reports told us that the CIA had visited bin Laden in a hospital in Dubai where he was undergoing dialysis in July of 2001, two months before 9/11, Bill Maher’s recent showing of an old clip of Christine Amanpour’s appearance on his show years ago saying that everyone knows that bin Laden is living in Pakistan, and an account from a military leader of a team that said when they had tracked bin Laden to Tora Bora soon after 9/11 and asked if they should go in and get him, was told to stand down.

If the US captured bin Laden at any of these points, then the war in Afghanistan would have to be over since that was the reason that we were given for the invasion. At this point, however, Obama is ready to pull out some troops and call it a day — so getting bin Laden allows him to do that “with honor.”
+22 # Deboldt 2013-01-26 09:12
Watching my hero Michael Moore being hoodwinked by Obama makes me sad. I can understand somewhat the pre-election hyperbole about how Obama walks on water. But please Michael; the election is over and it’s time to get back on the other side of the fence. The only reason I voted for Obama was there was essentially no one to vote for. Forget Rocky. True, Obama does not hate women, immigrants or gays, or at least panders to those demographics. Otherwise, on environmental, whistleblower, war, privacy rights, torture and innocent until proven guilty issues he is so far to the Right that a Neocon/Bush fantasy could never match it. To my mind, the point that Obama has eschewed torture is one of the greatest lies of the whole film. Does Michael believe Obama does not torture? What was Bradley Manning all about? And what about the continuation of rendition and black sites? If Obama is really opposed to torture why has he refused to prosecute all the torturers large and small who preceded him? Not punishing them is tantamount to a green light. And apparently Michael thinks the summary execution of bin-Laden and violation of Pakistani sovereignty was OK too. Is Michael’s head so far up the Democrat noise machine that no daylight can penetrate? Zero Dark Thirty was a horrific piece of pro-Amerikan propaganda, made all the worse for being so effectively done. The really sad thing is that now the brutal, amoral, Maya is being held up to women as something to emulate.
+6 # larrypayne 2013-01-26 11:46
Very good analysis of the Obama Administration.
Michael Moore was once a hero in my mind as well. My doubts about his credibility began with his film Fahrenheit 9/11. His film highlighted evidence against the Saudis while totally ignoring the evidence against Israel such as the Mossad agents arrested for filming the fall of the Towers while celebrating. He didn't mention the 200+ Israeli spies arrested in Florida right after 9/11 in the area the highjackers were training.
He didn't mention that Larry Silverstein had collected $4 billion+ in insurance on the three towers. He didn't mention that Silverstein had said on a PBS video that he had given the order to "pull Bldg 7 on the afternoon of 9/11." He didn't mention that Silverstein and his son and daughter had failed to show up for work at the Towers on 9/11.

Michael Moore is now a member of the 1%. He has forsaken the working class.
+2 # Artemis 2013-01-29 06:55
"And it will make you happy you voted for a man who stopped all that barbarity"....
sorry Michael Moore, you were always naive, though well intentioned, but this statement is ridiculous.
+2 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 20:42
It doesn't mean that he hasn't done some very valuable work, such as "Sicko," but for whatever reason Moore now seems to have drunk the Obama Kool Aid. I must now take everything he says with several grains of salt.
-5 # mikado12 2013-01-27 09:30
Quoting Deboldt:
. Is Michael’s head so far up the Democrat noise machine that no daylight can penetrate? Zero Dark Thirty was a horrific piece of pro-Amerikan propaganda, made all the worse for being so effectively done. The really sad thing is that now the brutal, amoral, Maya is being held up to women as something to emulate.

Yep Mr. Moore ever an iconoclast. Ha ha. Good try. Dear Michael Can you spin a similar tale about the Holocaust too. But really this is just too sad.
+3 # jon 2013-01-26 09:50
Good essay, Michael. but I am not going to see it. I don't need anymore negative stuff running around in my brain!
+6 # K.D. 2013-01-26 09:50
I think the torture question is the least of the film's problems. This movie doesn't know what it wants to be. While some may be dazzled by the bin Laden capture at the end (even this had cinematic problems, in my view), the film has no real center.

It's not about character: Jessica Chastain is simply a device upon which rather weak plot points are hung. She remains a cipher from beginning to end, and so why care about her, or her mission? Which means we're left with a plot built around externalized conflict as is the case in action films, but since this is not an action film and the plot points are mostly predictable and uninteresting, without drive or suspense, we're left with what? A hodgepodge.

Why? I think Bigelow erroneously thought she could depend on the audience's fascination with bin Laden's capture to drive interest in what is really an empty narrative. Big mistake. There's no there there. The dithering makes the film superficial, which, ironically, makes the torture scenes oddly not compelling. Ugly as they are, we've seen versions of these on TV already. Try watching Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" if you want the expectation of torture, not even torture itself, to make you quake.

If there's any crime committed by the filmmaker, it's this, that with all the seriousness of the underlying issues, the richness of what could have been said about them, so little was explored.

A tempest in a teapot, I say.
+10 # genierae 2013-01-26 10:26
Interesting comments. To me, what is needed is a massive consciousness-r aising across this country, and that requires major truth-telling by those who know what is really going on. I think this is actually happening. If you pay attention to current affairs you will see that people around the country are waking up and questioning recent and past events. Hold fast to the truth and it will tell you its story. The love of the heart and the truth of the mind, must work together to really affect change. For humans to thrive there must be much love and truth in their lives, and so we progressives must do our best to bring it to them while forgiving them for being asleep.
+6 # futhark 2013-01-26 11:00
I would like to see Mr. Moore revist Sicko and produce a new ending showing what has really been accomplished by the administration of St. Barack, the liberal messiah who was supposed to have corrected all the bad things happening in the Bush Administration.

While I applaud the end of torture in interrogation, I don't see the positive value of sending in a bunch of hit men to bump off Osama bin Laden, who appears to me to have had nothing to do with the planning or execution of the 9/11 attacks, while the real planners and perpetrators are still walking around enjoying freedom, security, and prosperity.
-2 # futhark 2013-01-26 20:26
Sexagenarian neural flatulence: the Michael Moore documentary that anointed Barack Obama as the savior of the world was "Capitalism: A Love Story", not "Sicko". The former deserves a remake of the ending in light of Mr. Obama's disappointing performance in not pushing for the public option in medical insurance, for his advocacy for and protection of the investment bankers who ripped off the public in 2007-2008, for his constantly pressuring Congress to pass more legislation enhancing the powers of the surveillance state apparatus, and for his unethical drone assassination program. Yes, he hasn't yet admitted the truth about 9/11 or done anything to pursue an investigation leading to justice for all concerned instead of assassinating innocent people on the other side of the planet. 'Nuff said!
0 # mim 2013-01-26 11:13
Should the paragraph that begins "Yes, that's the answer" be in quotation marks?
+7 # NAVYVET 2013-01-26 11:25
I'm a liberal and vividly remember the liberal shrieks against "El Topo" and "Bonnie & Clyde" back in the 60s. The shriekers embarrassed me. Both films were graphically gory, and yet. . . the purpose of showing the bloody realism was to wake us up, not to titillate. "El Topo", a Chilean film by the great Alejandro Jodorowski, tore wide open the myth of the American cowboy hero, showed him as a loser, a gun freak, careless of others--even of kids--but at the end a renewed soul who found some solace in Buddhism, but still committed suicide out of self-loathing. An amazing film! Arthur Penn's "Bonnie & Clyde" gave us an intimate portrait of inarticulate, stupid (or at least uneducated), gun-waving Southerners, total losers who never steal enough money to live on and who pick up along the way an even dumber sidekick who betrays them. Clyde is shown as arrogant but impotent, Bonnie as permanently depressed. I'll never forget the scene where Clyde (Warren Beatty) covers his face to avoid Bonny's criticism--bril liant acting. Yet the critics claimed that the film "glamorized" crime? Absolutely the opposite! It presented the criminal life with empathy--yet with brutal honesty. I respected both films immediately, told everyone I knew to be sure to see them. Now I'll make a point of seeing "Zero Dark Thirty" (although I do wish you'd get over your Obama hero worship, Michael).
+4 # Luis Emilio 2013-01-26 11:51
Michael Moore start with the (implicit ) assumption that war in general, and this war (on terrorism) is moral. However, when talking about war, the relevant questions is what work AND also what are the future (unintended?) consequences of our actions. In the particular case discussed here, the unintended consequence of torture is that gives the adversary the right of doing the same, elevate the will to fight of the enemy and bring more active people to their side.
+12 # Skeptical1247 2013-01-26 12:24
The saddest thing to witness is that "truth" is irrelevant now. Probably always has been where history, politics and religion are concerned. Perhaps it should be re-defined as "that which the unthinking will BELIEVE without evidence". In short, "faith" has replaced truth entirely.

A more recent phenomenon is that morality (especially that based upon religious belief systems) has morphed to the extent that telling the truth, having ethics, being fair in business dealings, having compassion for others, basic "goodness" that most of us learned in the sandbox, are no longer considered relevant, ESPECIALLY within the gospel crowd. Morality is now totally about vaginas.

I fear greatly that this nation is so far beyond redemption that we may never find our way back to basic human decency, mostly BECAUSE of the insidious crap now "believed" without any consideration of truth, logic, evidence.

But, like #genierae, I feel that we have to try, no matter how bleak our prospects are at this moment. If "Progressives" do not rise up as a political force, independent of the "Dem/Rep Corporatist Collusion Party" it will be "end of story" for the USA as we used to know it. And the "American Dream" will have become a fascist/corpora tist nightmare. We are almost there.
0 # Al21 2013-01-26 13:30
I'm a long time fan Michael. But I cannot disagree with you more about the intention and substance of the film. No matter what spin, Ms. Bigelow takes on the film, no matter what she "thinks" she tried to do, the early scenes of torture do not make torture seem like the horror it is and as well, a poor means of gaining good intel. While you applaud Bigelow for not talking down to the audience, I think you've lost sight that even on occasions where for example, the filmmaker thinks that they've pointed out the horror of violence, they often end up doing the opposite and sensationalize it.
And earlier commenter mentioned "Bonny and Clyde" and that along with films like "Clockwork Orange" and Eastwood's "Unforgiven" really in the end sensationalized the very thing they claimed to be de-drying. While, I actually liked those three films, it was for some of their other attributes-- I did not at all for what I'd hoped were going to be the truth of their claims. Bonnie and Clyde indeed became folk-heroes of a sort as did Malcolm McDowell's character as I can remember how many people laughed after the fact for years at the "singing in the rain" scene. And sadly most memorable for "Unforgiven" is the brutality of Hackman's character as well as Eastwood's slaughter in the bar. Alas, after the fact no one thinks of these film's as anti-violent. And in time, sadly, "Zero Dark Thirty" will not be remembered for decrying torture.
+2 # NAVYVET 2013-01-27 09:47
"Bonnie and Clyde indeed became folk-heroes of a sort"

They did?? I read about that, but I was stationed in New England when I saw "Bonnie & Clyde". The people I knew (Navy & civilian) agreed that the five main characters firmly convinced all of us that three empty neurotics craving endless sensation, two sad sacks who were just plain stupid, were certainly no folk "heroes"!! Instead they gave us a moral lesson of behavior to understand, but avoid.

I grew up in the South, however, and white people down there, especially weak, anxious men insecure in their sexuality or earning capacity, have a sinister habit of choosing imbeciles and madmen to emulate. I suspect that glamorizing the arrogant, immoral, self-serving, weak-brained chest-thumpers was (and is) a regional specialty.
+3 # revhen 2013-01-26 13:45
Let me out of the asylum! Ranting and babbling on both sides. Both left and right view Obama as evil. Is it his policies and actions or his color? A lot of heat with no light. Help! Let me out!
+7 # Glen 2013-01-26 14:28
It's his policies, revhen, and what Obama follows as what is now a U.S. universal agenda. It isn't his color except among the shallow who prefer diversionary concepts rather than what is actually happening. Obama is carrying out a program formed at least a couple of decades ago. Read the PNAC. I've advised others to read it, but most want to follow mainstream opinion.

Obama was a crowned head, as a number before him, including Bill Clinton, and especially George W.
+11 # larrypayne 2013-01-26 15:03
It has nothing to do with his color.
It has to do with Obama continuing the Bush policies and even being worse than Bush on whistle-blowers.

Obama's use of drones to kill without the due process of law is against all that America used to stand for. Maybe he gets away with it because of his color. You can't criticize a black man without being labeled a racist.
+1 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 20:48
Exactly - his color and some of his soaring rhetoric are the reasons that he is still considered progressive in spite of all evidence to the contrary. I think we should counter this fallacy by calling him the "Uncle Tom in Chief."
+4 # barryg 2013-01-26 22:37
The major reason I voted for Obama is that he is black. But everything said here about his continuation of the Bush family takeover of the country and destruction of democracy and the constitution is true.
+3 # Philothustra 2013-01-26 14:05
Moore's movies are perhaps journalism that proselytizes through social criticism, but all the naysayers of Fahrenheit 911 couldn't point to errors or mistatements: we watched video of the Bush Cheney gain drumming up a fake war, we saw the meetings with the Saudis, we witness
Wolfowitz spitting on his hair while he proposes more global war. Art is in the eye of the beholder.
+1 # cafetomo 2013-01-26 14:13
I like this guy. Let's keep an eye on him, so he doesn't end up face-down in a ditch somewhere.
+1 # an50iti5 2013-01-26 14:40
As a progresssive who voted for Obama both times but recognize his imperfections and hope for a more progressive presidency this time around, I would like to recommend to Innocent and others the importance of not sacrificing the good for the perfect
In the primary, one may vote for the best candidate but in the general election it's imperative that one vote for the best possible. In the choice between the two possibles, Romney drove me to vote Obama.
+1 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 20:54
It's a valid opinion, but one that has been voiced ad nauseum by those who hate the idea of protesting the one-and-a-half party system by not participating in the charade. Those who boycotted the election of voted 3rd party were all aware and accepting of the possibility that their choice could result in a Romney presidency. If you are truly aware of what Obama and the Democrats represent, you should not be calling them "good" or "best possible." They are the "least worst" of the two options (Nader's phrase).
0 # revhen 2013-01-26 14:53
Dear #Glen: Your comment could come from the right or left. My point exactly.
+2 # Glen 2013-01-26 18:30
I rather surmised your intent. Right/left, up/down, republican/demo crat, in the U.S. it is all the same. I support neither party, as I have said. Don't let it get you down. It took a while for me to adjust to the new America, and I now have given up.
0 # Martintfre 2013-01-26 15:07
Republican war Bad,
Democrat War Good

and Moore drones on and on and on.
+7 # lorenbliss 2013-01-26 16:30
Mr. Moore's review of "Zero Dark Thirty" prompts me to see the movie, never mind the six-hour trip to and from the theater where it is showing – this because I am stranded without a car in anti-transit Tacoma. Indeed I am stuck here until death: one does not move 3,000 miles back to pro-transit civilization when one is nearly 73, crippled and hopelessly impoverished as well.

Nor is the Ayn Rand-minded destruction of the local transit system a non sequitur. That Tacoma and its environs will soon be infamous as the largest metropolis in the industrial world without transit is due to the same Big Lie politics that fuels Mr. Moore's shamelessly toadying for Obama.

In truth the president did not end torture – note the continued operation of Guantanamo. In truth he gave the military Gestapo-like domestic law-enforcement powers and embraced the Nazi-like drone policy of murdering entire towns for harboring a single terrorist.

Again – this time with Mr. Moore as its fawning sycophant – we see the president's signature transformations from Obama the Orator back to Barack the Betrayer. The same transformations , from progressive to Randite, doomed Tacoma's bus service.

A filmmaker himself, Mr. Moore is a superb movie reviewer. But his falsehood-laden defense of the president – never mind it is no doubt motivated by understandable desires to stay off the torture table and out of the gulag – is utterly obscene.
+4 # Glen 2013-01-26 18:34
Excellent, lorenbliss. Gratifying to read someone who understands the betrayal and new system within the U.S.

How do you deal with no transit system? Is there a van or similar to transport those similar to yourself, as in other towns and cities?
+1 # lorenbliss 2013-01-26 20:58
The Puget Sound area has a 44-year history of we-don't-want-y ou-here opposition to people dependent on mass transit, but Tacoma represents the true nadir of the underlying hatefulness. Responding to the Teabagger claim “transit is welfare,” voters twice rejected a tiny sales tax increase – three pennies on a ten-dollar purchase – thereby inflicting a 78-percent downsizing on local bus service.

When the most recent cutbacks go into effect in September, all weekend and holiday service will be terminated, as will nighttime service after 7 p.m., also all paratransit for elderly and disabled people. Though Pierce Transit refuses to publicly admit it, credible inside sources have said the reduction in farebox revenues resulting from the cutbacks will bankrupt the agency. Given the harsh realities of the post-American-D ream economy, this will probably end local bus service forever.

Tacoma is a seaport city of 200,678 people; the overall Pierce Transit service area, including suburbs, contains 556,908 people. The September cutbacks will make it the largest metropolis in the industrial world without adequate transit. The end of bus service, for which no date is available, will make it the industrial world's largest no-local-transi t urban area.

For details, see my blog:
0 # Glen 2013-01-27 12:05
I have friends in Washington and Oregon who have said little about this issue. They, perhaps, are awaiting the final dates, or perhaps, as would be their wont, are in the process of organizing local means of assisting each other in transport. The guy in Oregon is excellent at organizing and was once in land reclamation. He will no doubt help with local transportation in your area in any neighborhood who is interested. I'll write and ask both of them.

And - I will read your blog post, for certain.
+2 # lorenbliss 2013-01-27 15:47
Thank you. Unfortunately transit cannot be organized and operated at the neighborhood level, which I know from years of covering it here and in New York City. Federal requirements make the costs prohibitive. Note for example the illegal – and terrifyingly unsafe – gypsy cabs of Manhattan.

Also, given the hatefulness evidenced by the election, any such effort here would face overwhelming opposition. The one remedial doorway, the Public Transportation Benefit District (see my blog), has been closed forever by the Tacoma City Council.

When you factor in November's unprecedented 15,513 under-votes – ballots typically cast by anti-transit “progressives” too dishonest to indicate a preference – you get an (accurate) picture of a hateful electorate in which a solid 54 percent wants to shut down the bus service – the newest form of gentrification.

About 49 percent of the Pierce Transit service area's population is lower-income (annual wages of 300 percent of poverty or less). The vote is thus a perfect example of class warfare: lower-income peoples for transit, upper-income peoples against.

Washingtonians hide their anti-transit-us er bigotry because it shows the state's allegedly “blue” politics are mostly Big Lies and hypocrisy.

Once again I find myself singing that Dylan line, “I'm going back to New York City; I do believe I've had enough.” But this time I am too old, sick and poor to ever go home again.
+1 # Glen 2013-01-27 17:45
And thank YOU for the explanation of the profound obstacles to local transit and the politics of same. Most folks I know would be astounded at that attitude in what has traditionally been considered a liberal part of the country. That, apparently, has been an illusion.

It isn't merely going back to New York City, I desire - it is leaving the U.S. altogether. I don't due to responsibilitie s in aiding family members who, like yourself, are limited. One does not abandon family and friends.

What are your options now? Folks assisting each other locally?
0 # lorenbliss 2013-01-28 01:11
The state has long been Ayn-Rand fascist on economic issues. Its 44-year opposition to mass transit is merely part of the picture. The tax structure is the most regressive in the U.S. There is no income tax; the One Percent pays nothing – the reason so many aristocrats live here. Businesses are favored by an infinity of exemptions.

When we began demanding tax reform, the Ruling Class response was November's initiative requiring a two-thirds legislative majority for tax increases. This passed by 69-31 percent, a typical example of Moron Nation voter-idiocy that ends forever any possibility of tax reform.

Meanwhile the Republicans gained an unbeatable majority in the state Senate. By paralyzing governance (which they are doing), they will almost certainly take the House in 2014 and the governor's mansion in 2016.

Yes, marriage equality passed – but by less than one percent (50.41-49.59), which means it will probably be overturned in the next general election. The marijuana initiative (approved 54-46) is meaningless: dope smoking is no longer an index to political identity.

Why did I retire here? For the trout fishing – which is no longer accessible save by horseback, making the back country the exclusive playground of the rich.

What will people do without buses? Depend on friends and acquaintances with cars. Have none? You're fucked – and neither the voters nor the politicians give a rat's ass.
0 # Glen 2013-01-28 10:41
A friend of mine brought The Dictator in just to watch a movie. Don't know if you have seen it, but there is one scene in which "the dictator" is attempting to convince Americans to install a dictatorship in the U.S. He then proceeds to list off all the advantages of a dictatorship. The entire list is what already exists in the workings of the U.S. I could not help but laugh at that reality and wondered who in audiences here and there would catch it.

Interestingly, there are states eschewed by many liberal type Americans and in general, such as Arkansas, that do have disadvantages, but over all are in good shape and much freedom exists in especially small towns and rural areas. AND there is much excellent trout fishing that is very convenient, especially along the Spring River. Then there is the White River and others. After retiring from teaching I worked at the biggest cold water hatchery in Arkansas, which is Game and Fish, on the Spring River. Many easy access points. Weekly stocking of rainbow trout. Folks help each other get around and there are numerous people arriving to fish riding scooters for those who are not ambulatory.

Then there is Ecuador, et al.

Ah, well. I definitely understand your disappointment in your state, and the influences on it. Many citizens have given up. I have, but am happy and preparing for that uncertain future.
+1 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 21:13
It sounds quite a bit like Florida. We have no state income tax, which is why so many rich people retire here. Several years ago they changed the law to require a 60% majority for all referendums or ballot initiatives. Republicans have controlled the state legislature for ages and done a wonderful job of gerrymandering all the political districts to keep themselves in power. We actually passed a pair of "Fair Districting" amendments a few years ago, and they've so far managed to avoid implementing it. And my home, the Tampa Bay area, is the largest metropolitan area in the country without any kind of rail transit. Voters have rejected a half penny sales tax increase that would have funded it, and of course governor Rick "Voldemort" Scott turned down several billion in federal aid that would have paid for a high speed line between Tampa and Orlando (and created many jobs in the process). As a result, you really can't get around without a car, and we have some of the worst traffic congestion anywhere, which they inadequately attempt to deal with by constantly widening the roads, and the traffic gets ever worse as developers continue to clear forests and extend the sprawl ever further away from the main metro areas (even with tons of houses sitting empty, I guess it's cheaper to build new cookie-cutter neighborhoods).
+1 # Glen 2013-01-30 07:55
I have a friend who left your area to live in Fayetteville AR, and is very happy. He can get around on a bike, in spite of traffic and the growth of the area up and down that NW part of the state. Republicans are on top in Arkansas but there isn't the wealth of Florida. There hasn't appeared to be the corruption of the type along the Gulf Coast, where developers have pushed and bought their way into building way beyond the environment, causing people such as the mayor of Orange Beach to be jailed, and so much more.

The west coast, as lorenbliss posts, is another story altogether, but the attitude appears to be the same. The rot within the U.S. is covered with those empty houses and endless road work.

If one were truly paranoid, one might think governments, federal and local, are herding folks and preventing an ease of movement. Those with a fair amount of money among citizens are not going to let that money go, even for a minor tax increase, and don't care about others.
+4 # frederico 2013-01-26 18:13
The Obama apologist does it again...
"Do we accomplish the ends we seek by becoming the murderers ourselves? That should be our only question." Yes Michael, we are the murderers and the terrorists, rapists, exploiters and arms dealers of the world, and you are as guilty as Obama, the Drone Bomber, et al, for justifying the cold blooded murder of a presumably innocent man, and many more than him. And, you are so right that Obama kills more efficiently than Bush. Aren't you proud of yourself, now? You and Bill Maher are so afraid of losing the hoax called America, that you are willing to support and defend invasions into sovereign countries, and revenge murders, and untold atrocities by storm troopers. Gee, I wonder why there is so much violence in America? If you want the bloody truth of what America really is, I suggest you watch "Django Unchained".
-1 # revhen 2013-01-26 19:06
Right wing say Obama socialist dictator. Left wing say he really secret tea party guy. He then must be middle of road shot at from both sides. Middle of road another name for road kill.
0 # sdraymond 2013-01-26 22:31
Your comments about torture have given me a whole new perspective on this movie. Most of the time you have a way of understanding things from a viewpoint that many of us do not notice and I thank you for that. However, your comment about not castrating pedophiles is not exactly correct. Perhaps it is not done in your state, but I know for a fact that it is practiced in California, where convicted pedophiles are given the choice of castration or life imprisonment.
+1 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 21:15
Apparently he must not include chemical castration, because I think that is fairly common.
+9 # easter planet 2013-01-26 22:33
Back to the movie review, OK?
I throw up every time I see Americans celebrating the murder of Bin Laden.
The movie is a CIA-approved and supported propaganda piece, and Mike obviously fell for it. Too bad. Thought he had some brains.
0 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:45
Actually, it was NOT CIA approved. Bigalow refused $$$ and the use of as much military hardware from the government because they would have the final say on the script. And she said NO!!!
You might want to read up on facts next time you make such a statement.
0 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 21:18
I've heard Bigelow make that same statement, but in fact the special access to classified information that she was given was conditioned on the CIA having some control over the movie.
+3 # California Neal 2013-01-26 22:44
# Scotty44 2013-01-26 10:59
If all those other critics missed it, then how many of the audience will catch it?

Good point, Scotty. I'm not in a good position to assess that since I haven't seen the movie. I'd be interested in what people who have seen it think.

I really needed to comment on Moore's false impression about castrating pedophiles. That is something about which I am knowledgable, having spent my career & my volunteer work as a child advocate.
0 # RMDC 2013-01-27 08:24
Michael Moore has been drinking Kool Aid.

Osama had nothing to do with 9-11. He's "WAnted" file with the FBI never mentioned that he was wanted for the crimes of 9-11.

Obama only made vague allusions to ending torture. The CIA and Speical forces continue to torture right up to this day in the same way as they always have. What is different is that there's no more propaganda about needing intelligence. Now the torture is used for what it was always used for -- to satisfy the blood lust and sadism of the CIA and special ops.
+2 # Allen 23 2013-01-27 19:34
Bigelow's argument is that "depiction does not imply endorsement". MM has explicitly reference this phrase and agreed with it.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, this argument is as insulting as it is disingenuous. It can just as easily be said depiction does not imply disapproval. What about fawning, flattering depiction?

Moore is in pretty deep on this one. It is like he watched a different film than the one he is discussing, because this film is widely regarded to be sympathetic to the torturers.

So...everybody is dumb, Mike? Everybody is wrong about the intentions of this director who spends her time kissing up to intelligence agencies and the DOD?

Mike is taking this personally, as a filmmaker. One thing he oughta understand, it ain't personal. I think that's what the agent whispers right before he starts an "enhanced interrogation" session.
+2 # Glen 2013-01-28 09:42
Nice, Allen. I don't intend to assist in glorifying this film or making any involved in the project more money than they are worth. You stated the reason nicely why even watching a DVD ain't gonna happen.

Folks are far too trusting in certain individuals, without digging deeper into what is actually being said or the ax getting honed on that grinder.
+1 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 21:24
Moore is clearly being extremely selective in what parts of the movie he considers in his argument, and he completely ignores the "fawning, flattering" aspect that you mention. Why he seems so invested in defending the movie, I don't know, but I guess maybe it has something to do with the new president who takes over two thirds of the way through and Moore's foolish desire to believe that the new guy ended all of our government's inhumane and immoral practices.
+1 # btfeldman 2013-01-28 12:32
An especially great article by Michael Moore. Those who “get it” understand that the debate over whether torture is (ever) morally right or justified overrides the debate it’s provoked among “lesser minds” and even some higher minds over whether or not torture worked in this case.

The responsibility of the artist is another great debate Moore himself provokes, as well debate over measurement of artistic success, with “Born In the USA” a great example. I happen to feel that a valid and less-often sought or achieved artistic pursuit is one that communicates morality to “lesser minds” even as it qualifies as true art.
+1 # khidr786 2013-01-28 17:39
Moore keeps validating the existence of the unaccountable-t o-The People CIA (he doesn’t want to “smash it into a thousand pieces” like JFK, oh no, not Mike), especially when it buckles down to what he calls, ad nauseam, - ‘are You sitting down?’ - “detective work”…Osama of course was a “godsend” (Moore revs up the religious lingo, someone is always ”putting the fear of God” in or “scaring the bejesus” out of someone else), a godsend to Bush/Cheney as a bogeyman and a godsend to Obama as a trophy kill, using his trump card, not the likely-long-dea d biological OBL, but the iconic, alive-when-need ed OBL to silence offa the MSM the birther attack of deep-pocketed Mr. Trump himself…funny how with all #1 Public Enemy kills, from John Dillinger to Che Guevara to Pablo Escobar, we are regaled with group photos of the killers, guns on hand, surrounding their killed stag – except this one of course (for what happened when initial phony pics were tentatively released as “feelers,” only to be instantly unmasked and torn apart by Truthers, see link below), we just had to trust the MSM/gov’t telling us that they’d “matched the DNA” – and that Osama was given a burial AT SEA in accordance with (we’re such great guys, short solemn pause, bow head slightly) muslim custom (find me a muslim who wants his/her remains to end up at sea)…
+2 # khidr786 2013-01-28 17:48
…the caper, much like the still-current “Sandy Hook Massacre,” was another example of how we – the very people who’ll smile n nod sagely about how the definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing over n over while expecting different results – can come up with no better response than to believe proven serial liars who control the script, allow no public challenge (not in their locked-down MSM), and change details at will from day to day – OBL fired away but later was unarmed (thus ‘validating’ killing someone unarmed), the wife fired away, was killed, later it was thought better to say she was only wounded…

here’s a recount of the gory-death-pics tryout…:

…when some clamor to show the death pics gathered momentum (even from Senator Lieberman), to forestall “conspiracy theorists” and show the world the kill was for real, i told friends, they’re gonna say that after considerable deliberation, O was reluctantly opting not to show the pics out of delicacy, they were soo gruesome (we’re such sensitive, great guys) - and of course so as not to inflame passions in the evr-handy “Arab street” – those fools who hate us cause we’re so free, though maybe “selected key Congressional leaders” would be allowed to view em, and, of course, we all trust These guys, so…this is just what happened, after a while these things are easy to predict…
+2 # Matt_OccupyEarth 2013-01-29 21:29
For those who truly "get it," there is no debate over whether torture is ever right or justified, and the debate about this movie is neither that nor whether it worked in a particular case - it is over how this movie portrays torture and torturers, and whether the movie accurately portrays reality. The consensus seems to be that it portrays torturers sympathetically , and that it is pretty much the CIA's version of reality that is presented.
+2 # khidr786 2013-01-28 17:12
IN PRAISE OF THE CIA: FIGHT OF THE CENTURY, OBAMA VS OSAMA, GET YR TICKETS NOW, PLAYING AT A THEATER NEAR YOU…i clicked this link somewhere else, and began reading not knowing who wrote it, didn’t see the pic…after a few lines of Obamophiliac sycophantic boosterism painfully attempting to masquerade as the voice of Average Joe Everyman, i thought, god, this is gotta be Mike Moore, who else…to hear him tell it, You’d think O, who apparently is extraordinary in not being an “imbecile,” and whom Moore correctly defines as “all about business” – (as in Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers & Merrill Lynch) – wiped out torture, outlawed renditions and shut down Guantanamo…acro ss the ring from our hero Obama is that pesky “punk” Osama – about whom, if You do Yr homework, You’d have far more evidence that he died some ten years before the “daring” violation-of-na tional-sovereig nty assassination of an uncharged/untri ed/unconvicted “target” by the “heroic” – and, of course, unfortunately later killed-in-an-ac cident – Navy Seal team…(as a “mass killer,” Osama can’t hold a candle to either Bush/Cheney or Obama, and calling him “crazed” is the predictable, phony, ready-made approach of emotion-manipul ating demonization projects, whether the target of a given day be Qaddafi, Saddam, Castro, Osama, whomever)…
-2 # bmiluski 2013-01-29 10:45
Who else thinks that khidr786 has a little too much time on his/her hands?

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