Tortured Logic

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Tortured Logic

MovieBob address the controversy surrounding enhanced interrogation and it's portrayal in Zero Dark Thirty.

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Contains spoilers for Zero Dark Thirty? WHAT SPOILERS!? What, that Osama Bin Laden dies?

To the above poster: You mind-ninja'd me - I was going to write something like that but forgot about it.

I find myself in an interesting position. On the one hand, I've held off watching Zero Dark Thirty because, well, the feeling of 'too soon' is still present. (I haven't seen any of the 9/11 films either.) But on the other hand it does seem to be provoking some interesting discussions, as well as being cited as a 'This is roughly what happened, make your own mind up', which I can support.

I have seen the documentary/reconstruction that was released a while back, complete with SEAL and Obama interviews, so I can weigh in on the torture discussion from that perspective. I thought they did admit to using torture and that a tortured inmate did give some vital info. I don't remember whether or not said info was given during torture, so it may even be related to the scenes in question. Basically, I'm of the opinion that torture can work, but that it's just as likely not to work or to even give false information.

I read one of those ultra-right wing "we do bad things for a good reason" books a while back, I think it was by Tom Kratman, and one of his central themes was "people say torture is unreliable, because people will say anything to get the pain to stop, well anything also includes the truth" thus justifying the extremely repugnant actions of his "heroes".

You know what? He's completely right, yes people will say "anything" to get the pain to stop, and logically "anything" also includes the truth, but that ISN'T the problem with torture being unreliable, you might get the "truth" out of someone after setting fire to their genitals, problem is how do you KNOW what is the truth and what is what the guy thinks you want to hear? That is what makes torture useless as a form of information gathering, you've got so much garbage and noise you simply can't rely on it.

And that's only the practical reasons torture is wrong, the moral reasons are far more compelling, after all we're suppose to be better then the barbarians we're fighting against, not stooping to their level, that's why we shouldn't lock people away for years on end without legal representation by declaring them "unlawful combatants", that's why we shouldn't use "enhanced interrogation methods", we're suppose to be better then that.

For what it's worth I agree with Bob, the movie wasn't advocating torture, it was showing it for the moral and practical obscenity it is.

A little information about what it's like to be waterboarded http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/08/hitchens200808

Anybody can hop on the bandwagon once it's too late to actually DO SOMETHING about it.

I take issue with one point. The fact that the switch to a more 'good cop' approach (offering food, daylight etc.) achieves the desired result is dependent on the torture that preceded it.
Were the prisoner not maltreated beforehand, the offer of mercy would be meaningless. Furthermore, the fact that they can convince him he already betrayed his co-conspirators under duress is dependent on his treatment beforehand having been sufficiently psychologically damaging to put him in a state of mental weakness. It's not a 'different strategy' proving 'enhanced interrogation' to be a failure. Instead, it shows that such techniques, if used as part of a broader plan, can achieve the desired results.

Alex Cowan:
I take issue with one point. The fact that the switch to a more 'good cop' approach (offering food, daylight etc.) achieves the desired result is dependent on the torture that preceded it.
Were the prisoner not maltreated beforehand, the offer of mercy would be meaningless. Furthermore, the fact that they can convince him he already betrayed his co-conspirators under duress is dependent on his treatment beforehand having been sufficiently psychologically damaging to put him in a state of mental weakness. It's not a 'different strategy' proving 'enhanced interrogation' to be a failure. Instead, it shows that such techniques, if used as part of a broader plan, can achieve the desired results.

I find your reasoning somewhat compelling, but ultimately flawed. Part of what motivates these people is the assumption that Americans are evil, godless, and will treat them like animals. Even if the "good cop" approach is their opening move, it could still work simply by forcing them to question whether or not they're fighting on the right side. After all, if they are indeed captured by the evil-doers, why is it that they are treating him with dignity and patience?

It is difficult to say whether or not the "good cop" approach would have worked in this particular context as an opening move, but just because it came after torture doesn't necessarily mean that it was entirely dependent on the torture in order to work. In fact, having the "good cop" approach preceded by torture would probably be less effective simply because the terrorist will see it as an empty and manipulative gesture from their sworn enemies. However, if the "good cop" approach is the only one you see, it's harder to justify defending your allies who you know very well would not treat their captives as well as your enemies are treating you.

I haven't watched the movie, but I'll take Bob's word for it. Can't really see video games handling it with any kind of nuance, though. After the new Splinter Cell's knife-gouging interrogation, I'm fully prepared for a 'Press X to Waterboard' next.

Whether or not it worked is largely irrelevant. The whole lying to get information that way is a part of the same process. It shouldn't be done in the first place and using such tactics makes these people just as much barbarians as they claim the men they hunt are.

And I've no time at all for that "freedom isn't free" nonsense. You have your ideals and you stand by them, even if the people you're fighting would rip them up and throw them back at you.

The fact that any nation or coalition of the "willing" thinks it can ride roughshod over the world making people disappear into black bags and dragging them to sites for "enhanced interrogation" (even the very term is an Orwellian nightmare) or shipping them off to developing nations who will go to lengths even western security services tremble at is beyond disgusting.

Yes, you may be dealing with monsters but that is no reason to become one.

How many Bin Laden's do they think this crusade will create? How many more pointless "wars" waged superficially in the name of democracy (lol) but in reality keyed to keep undesirable nations in the dirt will it take before people realise that all they create is a cycle of vendetta that goes beyond the military into the realms of the economic, the social, the intellectual and the social?

Far better to look into the reasons they hate us and do something about it rather than give them more cause to do so.

tkioz:
And that's only the practical reasons torture is wrong, the moral reasons are far more compelling,

To be honest, I don't care about the moral reasons. Morals don't mean squat when you're fighting for survival. Practicalities are all that matter.
That said, there's a lot more practical reasons to not torture than simply you get too much garbage information.

One of the most important is that when you're fighting an enemy you have to consider who is going to fight harder; the enemy that knows if they get captured they'll probably be tortured for information, or the enemy who knows that if they get captured they'll be treated humanely and perhaps be in even a better situation than they were in before they started fighting? Anything that reduces the resolve of your opponent to continue fighting is a good, practical thing. So we need to declare loudly and longly how we don't torture, we don't condone torture, and we refuse to have anything to do with it.

Then we have to follow through with it.. because if we're ever caught lying.. as the Bush administration was, that practical benefit goes up in smoke, and it takes a long time to rebuild it, especially in the face of enemy propaganda.

Alex Cowan:
I take issue with one point. The fact that the switch to a more 'good cop' approach (offering food, daylight etc.) achieves the desired result is dependent on the torture that preceded it.
Were the prisoner not maltreated beforehand, the offer of mercy would be meaningless. Furthermore, the fact that they can convince him he already betrayed his co-conspirators under duress is dependent on his treatment beforehand having been sufficiently psychologically damaging to put him in a state of mental weakness. It's not a 'different strategy' proving 'enhanced interrogation' to be a failure. Instead, it shows that such techniques, if used as part of a broader plan, can achieve the desired results.

That's crap. All you need to do is convince the prisoner that any information they have is useless, and that they are in a prisoner's dilemma with other captives. Torture is not required. It may make that kind of play easier, but the cost -- as I point out above -- is too high.

Alandoril:
Whether or not it worked is largely irrelevant. The whole lying to get information that way is a part of the same process. It shouldn't be done in the first place and using such tactics makes these people just as much barbarians as they claim the men they hunt are.

Hmm. I'd draw a line between actual bodily harm torture and using the truth to 'trick' someone into giving you more information. Partly because the second one is more likely to work, provided that they swallow the bait, and partly because I view lying and trickery as less morally wrong than putting a person through water-boarding or any other kind of torture.

And although the bait relied on the fact that the prisoner had already been tortured, I'd put that down to using more truth in your story to make it more convincing - the lie didn't need the torture. They could have just said that they thwarted the bombing by other means, or by something that the prisoner had said or done that gave them a hint, regardless of torture. (People very rarely remember their every word and action, especially not when under interrogation.)

Using torture is not nearly as morally repugnant as using torture and then denouncing it as bad. Nor can the Obama administration and its supporters salve their conscience by blaming it all on Bush. He's been gone for 4 years now, and yet Guantanamo Bay is still open, and 'enhanced interrogations' are still going on.

America needs to either own up to its own moral failings and take steps to end them, or it has to stop claiming that it's the 'good guy.'

Pat Hulse:

Alex Cowan:
I take issue with one point. The fact that the switch to a more 'good cop' approach (offering food, daylight etc.) achieves the desired result is dependent on the torture that preceded it.
Were the prisoner not maltreated beforehand, the offer of mercy would be meaningless. Furthermore, the fact that they can convince him he already betrayed his co-conspirators under duress is dependent on his treatment beforehand having been sufficiently psychologically damaging to put him in a state of mental weakness. It's not a 'different strategy' proving 'enhanced interrogation' to be a failure. Instead, it shows that such techniques, if used as part of a broader plan, can achieve the desired results.

I find your reasoning somewhat compelling, but ultimately flawed.

Alex Cowan said "it shows such techniques, if used as part of a broader plan, can achieve the desired results." I.e., within the context of the film, "torture cop, good cop" is presented as the effective method, not "good cop" alone.

I'll give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they thought they were making it clear by interrupting ineffective torture with effective compassion that "torture is bad, but compassion is effective". But Alex is suggesting maybe it's not clear enough, and the scene can be interpreted as "torture + compassion = effective". I suppose I'll make my own determination when I finally see the film.

CAPTCHA: i love you

Well, I certainly don't wish torture on any fellow Escapists!

A very well put and thought provoking article.

Exactly the kind of discussion that such a film should raise.

I know this doesn't add much to the discussion, but credit where credit is due.

I suppose that's what you should expect from a media that assumes that the public is incapable of thinking and will believe whatever it sees on TV.

People are taking films too seriously, and Katherine Bigelow is probably loving it. This isn't journalism, this is entertainment, and it's crafted so well that the Academy rewards them for it.

It's an insight into the detractors of other forms of violent art (movies, games, music), that if they themselves are looking for morality in this form, it's understandable that they cannot accept the concept that others may not be doing the same.

The producers could've just kept the cookie in the jar and never talk about the subject. But they did... There are way too many Americans who simply will not believe that their gov would do such a thing, so forcing those to look the truth in the face should, in a normal world, should count as a good thing. It should normally make the movie stand out from the crowd, brave enough to talk about such a traumatic reality. But it doesn't... It's not the movie's fault. In a normal world, any topic about torture should be "torture is bad, m'kay? case closed, don't do it, whatever the reasons!". But since in our world the US, the world's pillar of democracy and liberty, has spat in the face of the Geneva Convention, the torture issue has taken a turn for the worse. If some backwater 3'd world country uses torture, it's something we can all deal with mentally. It fits the bill. But since the US do it (and who knows who else, the Vatican maybe?!), suddenly torture becomes a "topic", something to be discussed, weighted, like the iPhone price. I've had my share of Youtube clashes with 'Murikans (god loving christians no less) who advocated torture, endorsed it, applauded it, while at the same time denying it happened. The fact that the movie has become controversial is that THESE people are capable of viewing torture as a good thing and this taint has fell on the movie itself.

What I loved about the movie was that it showed US torture as horrible as it is. Torture is torture, but the way the US does it just make you want to puke. I'm a gruesome person, almost an expert on medieval torture. But the modern way is much worse. I'd rather share Ravaillac's fate and be done with in 13 days than end up in Guantanamo for years and years.

Ever read the lyrics to "Born in the USA" and wonder just why it is that the pro-war neoconservatives seem to love that song? It's like they never actually listened to anything but the refrain.

Alex Cowan:
I take issue with one point.

I agree entirely. Every article I've read denouncing Greenwald's point has invariably pointed out that his fundamental critique is, in fact, correct: per ZDT, torture led (however indirectly) to finding OBL, an assertion that is both factually incorrect (AFAIK) and politically and ethically/morally and even, yes, pragmatically dangerous.

Greenwald's point was solid, it was about the overarching notion that torture was directly or indirectly responsible for finding the location of Osama Bin Laden. A case of 'it didn't work in this one scene' isn't applicable when the entire movie infers that although torture isn't perfect, overall it provided reliable intelligence data for the mission. The problem is doubled when Bigelow goes around saying what an accurate retelling of real-world events the movie is, even when THE ACTING DIRECTOR OF THE CIA comes forward to say it's inaccurate.

Pat Hulse:

Alex Cowan:
I take issue with one point. The fact that the switch to a more 'good cop' approach (offering food, daylight etc.) achieves the desired result is dependent on the torture that preceded it.
Were the prisoner not maltreated beforehand, the offer of mercy would be meaningless. Furthermore, the fact that they can convince him he already betrayed his co-conspirators under duress is dependent on his treatment beforehand having been sufficiently psychologically damaging to put him in a state of mental weakness. It's not a 'different strategy' proving 'enhanced interrogation' to be a failure. Instead, it shows that such techniques, if used as part of a broader plan, can achieve the desired results.

I find your reasoning somewhat compelling, but ultimately flawed. Part of what motivates these people is the assumption that Americans are evil, godless, and will treat them like animals. Even if the "good cop" approach is their opening move, it could still work simply by forcing them to question whether or not they're fighting on the right side. After all, if they are indeed captured by the evil-doers, why is it that they are treating him with dignity and patience?

It is difficult to say whether or not the "good cop" approach would have worked in this particular context as an opening move, but just because it came after torture doesn't necessarily mean that it was entirely dependent on the torture in order to work. In fact, having the "good cop" approach preceded by torture would probably be less effective simply because the terrorist will see it as an empty and manipulative gesture from their sworn enemies. However, if the "good cop" approach is the only one you see, it's harder to justify defending your allies who you know very well would not treat their captives as well as your enemies are treating you.

Basically, what I heard was that it's not about being good or bad to the person. The idea is that trying to break them with pure brutality is going about it the wrong way. Apparently, the most effective form of interrogation so far involves deluding the person into thinking that you already know more about him than you actually do, so that he feels that resistance is pointless and that lying will get him nowhere. In the movie, they did that by saying that he had already revealed the information to them in his ramblings.

I always love it when an article spends the first half of a page badmouthing the people whose opinions are disagreed with and the article is going to go one to deconstruct. If your argument is solid you can just show it to us instead of knocking down the people involved first. Perhaps at the end, after you've shown them false you can explain why they came to a false conclusion, heck that even be a nice thing to do 'they aren't film critics for a job so they probably missed this this and this'

grigjd3:
Ever read the lyrics to "Born in the USA" and wonder just why it is that the pro-war neoconservatives seem to love that song? It's like they never actually listened to anything but the refrain.

Because the refrain is the one part you can understand through the upbeat music? It's like nobody on E Street Band had the guts to directly tell Springsteen "Boss, we love ya, but for this song to work, it helps to annunciate when you sing it, m'kay?"

Alex Cowan:
I take issue with one point. The fact that the switch to a more 'good cop' approach (offering food, daylight etc.) achieves the desired result is dependent on the torture that preceded it.
Were the prisoner not maltreated beforehand, the offer of mercy would be meaningless. Furthermore, the fact that they can convince him he already betrayed his co-conspirators under duress is dependent on his treatment beforehand having been sufficiently psychologically damaging to put him in a state of mental weakness. It's not a 'different strategy' proving 'enhanced interrogation' to be a failure. Instead, it shows that such techniques, if used as part of a broader plan, can achieve the desired results.

I can't speak to the way it's presented in the movie (haven't seen it), but in real life the "good cop" routine without going through a "bad cop" routine is supposedly quite effective. I recall reading an article early into the war on terror of an exasperated warden of a military camp where insurgent prisoners were kept, and he was routinely able to obtain more accurate intelligence faster by simply building trust with the prisoners. Basically military intelligence officers have known for ages that proving to the prisoners you're going to treat them fairly is far more effective in getting intelligence than torturing- the problem is that in the early stages of the war the American occupation was so disorganized that we had leaders demanding intelligence from prisoners in locations where people who actually knew how to get information out of them weren't stationed. Torture then was a technique that was used because unskilled interrogators felt they needed to do something.

Anyway, IIRC the reason this warden was exasperated was that the political pundits had at that time gotten wind of the torture debate, and in trying to protect the Republican administration that in this man's opinion had only resorted to it out of inept desperation, were now trying to portray it as a policy that should be actively pursued. This was in the days when 24 was relevant on TV, and it made a certain segment of the American population feel good to know that brown people were being brutalized in order to protect the good ole' USofA.

This reminds me of the Starship Troopers (the movie) ehm, controversy. An openly hilarious, tongue-in-cheek movie, which apparently a lot of people saw as real totalitarian propaganda.

The problem with all these controversies is confirmation bias. If you go into the film thinking torture is cool, you'll probably leave thinking it's cool. If you go in thinking the film is out to promote torture, you'll probably leave thinking that. If you go in thinking bin Laden was a victim of a tyranic, violence-obsessed country, you'll probably leave thinking the same. People are incredibly stubborn and thick and their views don't change just because you give them a logical reason to. Maybe this is an argument for artists trying to get messages across to their audiences to stop being subtle and nuanced about it but even then people will probably critisize it for being misguided and trying to excuse the creator's fucked up view of the world with a pithy moral that contradicts everything the work built up to. I'm not implying this is something that happens a lot but it happens enough to become an annoyance.

When i read the words "based on..." for a movie, i read it as "having nothing to do with...."In reality we tracked Bin Larden cos one of his lackys use his mobile when he shouldnt. It was blind luck we found him and nothing more. But of course, this being an american movie, we have to see that he was tracked down using skill. lol.

I love how Bob starts by talking about journalists who have no grounds to be movie critics because its out of their field, but then goes on to take a stand on whether torture works. He's a movie critic.

Does the "good cop" angle work? Yes.
But it's part of a routine called "Good cop/Bad cop", you need BOTH to be effective. The 'bad' cop uses force (or threat of force) to try to accomplish the objective, the 'good' cop uses a smile and olive branch. You can't just use the 'good cop' side of this system and expect results.

I think the filmmakers were trying to have their cake and eat it too: they got to show torture for shock effect, get publicity out of it, AND say it doesn't work.

Bob Chipman's analysis is absolute garbage. I don't say that lightly or for the sake of being purposefully offensive. I've seen Zero Dark Thirty three times, and the movie depicts or describes the possible efficacy of torture on multiple occasions, including during the interrogation of Ammar.

SPOILERS WARNING

1. Chipman talks about Dan's failure to get information from Ammar regarding the "Saudi Group"; information that could have possibly prevented the Khobar attack in 2004. That is true, but right after Maya devises a ruse: because Ammar has been brutalized by prolonged sleep deprivation (which any objective legal body would conclude constitutes torture), Ammar can be manipulated and bluffed. Memory loss, Dan tells us, is a consequence of sleep deprivation. So Maya and Dan inform Ammar that he coughed up information while he was being subjected to sleep deprivation, helping to prevent the Khobar attack. As a result, Ammar feels comfortable talking about his Al Qaeda colleagues over a meal because he is under the false impression that he has already disclosed valuable operational secrets to his interrogators. During this lunch, when Ammar hesitates naming other terrorists who were with him in Afghanistan, Dan reminds Ammar that he could always go eat with someone else and "hang [Ammar] back up to the ceiling." Right after Dan says this, Ammar gives up three war names, including that of Abu Ahmed (the Bin Laden courier who would eventually lead the CIA to the now-famous compound).

2. In the subsequent chapter, Maya is shown reviewing detainee interrogation tapes. Several detainees offer information related to Abu Ahmed, his brothers, and the courier's relationship with Bin Laden. Some of these detainees are either being subjected to torture or are clearly distressed.

3. Maya then goes to interview an elderly detainee who is supposed to be the real-life Hassan Ghul. Maya tells Ghul that if he doesn't cooperate with her and answer her questions, he might be sent to Israel (the clear implication being that he will be tortured). Ghul then states: "I have no desire to be tortured again. Ask me a question and I will answer it." Almost immediately thereafter, Ghul talks about Bin Laden, Abu Faraj, and Abu Ahmed.

4. The individual who is used by the Pakistani ISI as bait to capture Abu Faraj (Al Qaeda's number three) is given an ankle bracelet with electric-shock capabilities; the implication being that if he doesn't cooperate in the operation to nab Abu Faraj, he is going to be punished and tortured.

5. Maya then presides over the interrogation and torture of Abu Faraj. While Abu Faraj never gives up information regarding the courier, Maya later states that this 'withholding' confirms her belief that Abu Ahmed and Bin Laden are intricately connected; deductive reasoning based on the fact that Abu Faraj "gave up everything" except for information that pertains to Bin Laden and Abu Ahmed.

6. Two of Maya's superiors at the CIA indirectly criticize politicians for their intrusion into the CIA's detainee practices. The Wolf approves Dan's bribery-money request only after he agrees to take the blame for the program. George challenges Obama's national security advisor, saying that he lost the ability to produce concrete evidence regarding Bin Laden's presence after Obama shut down the black sites. The detainees are now in Gitmo, George tells us, all "lawyer-ed up," and those lawyers will warn Bin Laden if they start asking questions about the Abbottabad compound. After a discussion in the White House situation room, the Obama advisor talks about the risk of conducting a raid since all of the CIA's human-source information regarding the courier (and his link to Bin Laden and the compound) comes from detainees questioned "under duress."

7. Not a single character in the movie explicitly questions torture's efficacy, necessity, or morality. Only Dan expresses concern, but that has to do with the possible repercussions to his career. He even tells Maya that she doesn't want to be the last one holding a dog collar when the oversight committee comes investigating (a warning made right after Maya, the film's heroine, got done torturing Abu Faraj).

END OF SPOILERS

I personally don't think ZD30 is pro-torture. At times, the movie depicts so-called enhanced interrogations as being ineffective or yielding inaccurate information. Torture is also never shown or described as a silver bullet. However, it is undeniable that ZD30, either directly or via character dialogue, presented a narrative that information provided by tortured detainees was helpful in the early stages of the manhunt. Individuals like Bob Chipman either weren't pay close attention to the dialogue, or they're simply ignorant of the fact that torture was used in combination with rapport-based interview techniques. You can't isolate the efficacy of any single technique, or determine with any certainty what exactly caused a detainee to cooperate (in either real life or in the movie).

Hey Bob, you know that Obama is CONTINUING the Bush-era torture policies, right?

So wait a second, I have not seen this movie so I may get my facts wrong. They torture/Witcher 2 enhanced interrogation edition boogaloo a guy. And then later they treat him humanly and claim that in his torture fugue he gave up his target and thus use this against him...

Is-Isn't that how torture actually WORKS? It's more about breaking down a persons mental faculties and manipulating them. It's a massively common tactic and has also been called good cop/ bad cop. The abused latches onto the first sympathetic treatment and lowers their guard and they are pliable and easily manipulated. It's BECAUSE of the torture that this behaviour works. The character would not have responded that way if he had not been horribly abused. The main character Maya uses this to her advantage, I doubt she fed him out of the kindness of her heart it's a manipulation and many soldiers are taught this in S.E.R.E. school. I may have the movie wrong but to me that sounds like a pretty thunderous affirmation that torture works. because....well sometimes it does, after thousands of years it is still a pretty popular intelligence gathering tool. You can pretend you are civilized all you want but some things about war will never change. Like Ron Perlman's face

Personally I doubt it will affect my enjoyment of the film. No movie is history no matter how much it pretends and I hope it's as enjoyable as Bob says. I won't find it cathartic because I live in the real world.

Oooh, those last bolded words.
Bob's still upset over Sucker Punch.
Is funny to me.

Haven't seen the movie, not even sure if they're playing it over here. Might use enhanced acquisition techniques to get it at some point.
Edit: also, as has been said here; good cop-bad cop. That's 'enhanced interrogation' right there.

Daniela:

Ammar has been brutalized by prolonged sleep deprivation (which any objective legal body would conclude constitutes torture)

That is a big part of the problem in the torture debate, which is, what the hell constitutes torture? Arguably, making a terrorist feel emotionally bad/slightly sad constitutes torture. It almost isn't worth it to even try to end torture as simply the USA and fighting back against adversaries will be taken by those who hate the USA as torture.

Another issue I've argued here is with people that argue torture does not work. That you won't get reliable information. Another movie, "The Lives of Others" an interrogation leads to willful misinformation. It is the rote nature of the misinformation that is used to convict the guy. Interrogators are taught to sift through the cloud of information to try to find the truth. They may not always find it, but I'd hate to guarantee our enemies we won't even look for it.

It's important to note that: Bob is NOT accurately describing the relevant scenes.

1. Part of the reason they were able to do "the switch", is because the tortured captive had been subjected to 96 hours of sleep deprivation, giving them plausible cover. Bigelow claims this to be actual journalism, which is problematic, since the facts run counter to this narrative.

In the movie, the key piece of evidence that led to the assassination of Bin Laden, was the name of the courier, obtained after the 20 minute montage of "breaking" the original detainee.

2. And this is *KEY*, during the "switch", the captive only releases the information when he is threatened with more torture. It is absolute malpractice for Bob to have omitted this from his column, as it is a damning piece of evidence against Zero Dark Thirty's endorsement of torture.

3. Selective narrative. Even if we buy Bob's premise that the film is detached and "neutral",that doesn't mean that the presentation itself isn't heavily slanted. In the real world, there was fierce internal pushback against the use of torture from within the CIA itself. In Bigelow's world, the only people that complained about it were scumbag "politicians" who want the terrorists to "lawyer up so they can warn Bin Laden" (actual quotes).

We are assured by one of the protagonists that "everyone breaks bro, it's biology". This was not the consensus, but in Bigelow's world it's the only acceptable view.

Our main protagonist (Chastain), herself begins to engage in abuse. The fact that she is presented as a strong, smart, dedicated protagonist fighting against corrupt bureaucrats, only further cements the point that we are supposed to feel sympathetic with torturers and war criminals.

The only footage of Obama in this film, is superimposed on him being scoffed at by a "good guy" character, that then tragically dies in her dedication to finding the bad guys. What was she scoffing at? That Obama was saying it's immoral to torture.

Finally, the bureaucrats are once again depicted as "getting in the way" and "unreasonable" because they demand evidence, even though "how can we get evidence without the detainee program!!".

There's tons more that can be said about this, but it's unnecessary at this point. The basics are incontrovertible: Bigelow claims X was true. X is not true. Then, since the reason for including X can't be defended as pure truth telling, its inclusion is a choice that should be judged. And the judgement is that she creates a false impression that torture worked, thus glorifying it because anything that resulted in getting Bin Laden, is inherently glorified.

P.S.: The movie wasn't even that good outside of the bad politics.

Gorfias:

Daniela:

Ammar has been brutalized by prolonged sleep deprivation (which any objective legal body would conclude constitutes torture)

That is a big part of the problem in the torture debate, which is, what the hell constitutes torture?

96 hours of sleep deprivation is physically harmful, and psychologically scarring. Being waterboarded is extremly distressing. Being strung up on ropes and stuffed into a box is physically painful and psychologically tormenting. As for "who decides", the United States has agreed to definitions as codified in various international treaties. Intentional infliction of pain and distress, such as sleep deprivation, is torture by our own definition. It's been decided.

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