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“Zero Dark Thirty”: Dramatized Fiction on CIA “Torture”
Flopping Aces ^ | 01-04-13 | Wordsmith

Posted on 01/04/2013 9:11:24 AM PST by Starman417

How accurate and realistic is the portrayal of CIA interrogation in the film? The movie, after all, opens with a statement saying “based on firsthand accounts of actual events"; then goes on to show the fictionalized brutal abuse and torture of a fictional high value terrorist, including waterboarding.

Well, one "firsthand account" not utilized as an expert consultant to the movie is Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, author of Hard Measures, and unapologetic defender of the CIA's "torture" program....

When I reviewed Zero Dark Thirty, the focus of my review was on whether or not political partisanship played a role in the film. I believe Kathryn Bigelow's intent in making the film was devoid of a political agenda. However, in an attempt at "historical accuracy", just whose history narrative did Mark Boal (screenwriter and professional journalist) listen to? The movie lays claim in its opening moments to being “based on firsthand accounts of actual events.” And Boal states that he didn't "want to play fast and loose with history”. Yet in dramatizing one of the most controversial of political issues- whether or not we tortured HVDs- it appears they did just that, whether due to following the narrative formulated by critics or due to artistic liberties and dramatization. Bigelow and Boal did also warn,

that “Zero Dark Thirty” remained a thriller and not a kind of documentary intended to stand up to nit-picking by historians. For instance, their film is rooted — more by cinematic choice than by historical necessity — in the experience of a young American intelligence operative, Maya, who is portrayed by Jessica Chastain.

But in going to see the film, how many gullible moviegoers are going to come away from the film not believing that this is a dramatization, meticulously researched in historical details and facts? Especially with a blurb at the beginning that this film is “based on firsthand accounts of actual events"?

One person who I doubt Boal chose as an onset film adviser and expert consultant is Jose Rodriguez.

The "torture scene" in the first quarter of the movie didn't sit well with me because it seemed to jumble together some of the worst "stereotypes" of Guantanamo/CIA blacksites/interrogations/detainee abuses that our CIA AND military interrogators were accused of (the HVD being brutalized by CIA interrogator "Dan" in the film seems to represent several real-life HVTs rolled up into one). The interrogation scenes also played out in a manner that is consistent for the sake of dramatizing; but not consistent with the clinical and professional nature of how EITs were conducted (based upon details layed out in the OLC memos and as described by Marc Thiessen and Jose Rodriguez in their respective books).

Writes Mark Bowden:

So, how true is it? It was a mistake for those involved in the film to suggest that Zero Dark Thirty is "journalistic," and to have touted their access to SEAL team members and CIA field officers. No matter how remarkable their research and access, the film spills no state secrets. No movie can tell a story like this without aggressively condensing characters and events, fictionalizing dialogue, etc. Boal's script is just 102 pages: fewer than 10,000 words, the length of a longish magazine article.

Within these limits the film is remarkably accurate, and certainly well within what we all understand by the Hollywood label, "based on a true story," which works as both a boast and a disclaimer.

Bowden understands the film's presentation as "remarkably true", in the broad sense. But how fair and accurate is the movie's rendition of CIA "torture"?

(excerpt)

TOPICS: Government; Politics
KEYWORDS: bhocia; binladen; cia; interrogation; rendition; seal; torture; zerodarkthirty

1 posted on 01/04/2013 9:11:37 AM PST by Starman417
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To: Starman417

I don’t know whether or not it’s “torture” to waterboard someone, either in a general sense or in some legal sense. (I read one of the two “torture memos” and found it very bland. Basically the author, now a law professor, said that it wasn’t clear one way or the other. For this he was subjected to a serious effort to arrest and disbar him.)

What I do know is that NOT applying such or similar measures, which while very uncomfortable cause neither death nor lasting harm, is IMMORAL in some cases. If there is good reason to believe that someone knows where a ticking nuclear bomb is and how to stop it, and that bomb will kill millions of people due to its location, how is it morally right to say, “No, we dare not waterboard him. Better that those millions die than that he get a wet washcloth over his face for a few minutes”?

Shorter version: If it is moral to KILL in certain tactical circumstances, how can it not also be moral to INFLICT PAIN in some circumstances?

This labeling as “torture” is too often a liberal’s substitute for actual argument.

2 posted on 01/04/2013 9:38:03 AM PST by pogo101
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To: pogo101

We waterboard our own pilots, aircrew, and special warfare personnel for training.

3 posted on 01/04/2013 9:58:24 AM PST by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: Starman417
"Wordsmith" took a whole lot of words not to answer the question he kept asking repeatedly.

To summarize: The torture scenes in the movie are fictional, that isn't how enhanced interrogation works, and we haven't waterboarded since 2003. But enhanced interrogation WAS used, and it led to the information that allowed us to kill Bin Laden.

An excerpt that provided the 3 paragraphs which gave that information might have been more useful than the well-formatted excerpt we got here that simply asks questions without getting to the point.

4 posted on 01/04/2013 11:09:27 AM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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