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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'Zero Dark' Dirty?

UPDATE #4  I'll be adding my own two or three cents after screening film last night, but basically I pretty much agree with Bergen (below):  Perhaps not intent of director and writer, but most viewers will come away feeling torture played a key role in getting bin Laden. 

UPDATE #3  Now security analyst Peter Bergen, writing at CNN site,  joins those questioning movie on torture"The compelling story told in the film captures a lot that is true about the search for al Qaeda's leader but also distorts the story in ways that could give its likely audience of millions of Americans the misleading picture that coercive interrogation techniques used by the CIA on al Qaeda detainees -- such as waterboarding, physical abuse and sleep deprivation -- were essential to finding bin Laden."  (h/t @bbedway)

But now:  American Prospect writer defends movie. 

UPDATE #2  Spencer Ackerman at Wired disagrees strongly with Greenwald and Bruni and others, says torture scenes are best parts of movie and show that torture horrible and useless.   "Zero Dark Thirty does not present torture as a silver bullet that led to bin Laden; it presents torture as the ignorant alternative to that silver bullet."

UPDATE Glenn Greenwald in new Guardian column also hits the movie on its pro-torture message.  He hasn't seen it but dissects reviews and coverage and quotes from its creators, which suggests to him that they rely on "CIA lies" about the role torture played in getting bin Laden.

Sunday:  I've read about, tweeted, and post early and late trailers for Zero Dark Thirty for months, including the controversy over whether it would help Obama before election (and hence the postponement of its release until after it).   Now it's been picking up many year-end awards--and I'll finally watch a preview screening this Tuesday.

But Frank Bruni has a tough column today at NYT--see the Ben Wiseman illustration with it at left--suggesting that it's a movie Dick Cheney would love (Zero Darth Vader?), that it backs torture policy that Obama quit, and more.  "It’s about finding a needle in a uniquely messy and menacing haystack. 'Enhanced interrogation techniques' like waterboarding are presented as crucial to that search, and it’s hard not to focus on them, because the first extended sequence in the movie shows a detainee being strung up by his wrists, sexually humiliated, deprived of sleep, made to feel as if he’s drowning and shoved into a box smaller than a coffin."

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