Ethics Bob and Zero Dark Thirty

Ethics Bob and Zero Dark Thirty

Ethics Bob
Ethics Bob

This is Ethics Bob’s take on the recent movie, Zero Dark Thirty. As with all of his work, it merits reading.

James Pilant

Zero Dark Thirty: Did torture lead us to Osama bin Laden? « Ethics Bob

For many years before Zero Dark Thirty, arguments raged about whether torture was acceptable, and the arguments turned largely on whether torture—euphemized into enhanced interrogation because torture is illegal—was effective. Arguing for torture was the CIA; opposing it was most of the FBI. FBI agents reported that detainees that were treated decently, even kindly, were founts of valuable intelligence until CIA interrogators took over and turned to torture, at which point the detainees clammed up.

Bigelow’s and Boal’s sources were largely CIA, so it figures that they were told that torture played an important role. Had their sources been FBI the movie’s depiction of the interrogations would have different.

So did torture lead us to UBL? I’m inclined to think that it was of little help, but I can’t really know. See the movie and keep an open mind.

Zero Dark Thirty: Did torture lead us to Osama bin Laden? « Ethics Bob

Here is the trailer –

What’s my take? Torture is against American and International law. If an American uses torture, he should be prosecuted for the crime or handed over to international authorities for punishment.

James Pilant

From around the web –

From the web site, Daily Speculations:

Is it worth a come-see? Assuredly. By the fanatic long lines even late at night, this is the pic to see. And probably 90% went out satisfied. But is it /all that/? Not so sure. Bigelow earns her stripes/, *The Hurt Locker*/ won Best Pic of 2008, and merited it. Moreover, probably few directors could have landed this baby as well as she. But somehow I think the hype is selling this sizzle more than the steak.

From the web site, People’s Blog for the Constitution:

Just to reiterate the consensus: torture did not help national security. The chairs of the Senate intelligence and armed services committees, in addition to a recent Republican presidential nominee and torture survivor, and the acting head of the CIA, have all publicly announced that the film’s depiction of torture exaggerates its usefulness.

In fact, as they have all confirmed, the information that led to the death of Osama bin Laden was gained through traditional intelligence methods, not the unconstitutional “enhanced interrogation” human rights abuses illegally concocted by former Vice President Dick Cheney, Ninth Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, and others.

Not only was torture unhelpful as an interrogation method, it was actively counterproductive: it fueled the recruitment of new terrorists by our nation’s enemies, and undermined our nation’s moral standing in the world, degrading the “smart power” that was responsible for our triumph over the Soviet bloc and the relative peace in the decades following WWII.

And, finally, from the web site, Indies Unchained:

In my opinion, Zero Dark Thirty does not glorify torture. The film is very objective. It shows us what happened and it’s up to us to determine how we feel about it. I think a lot of people are used to being told what to think and mistake the clinical representation of these events as condoning torture. However, showing and endorsing are not the same thing. A lot of people are misinterpreting what’s happening in the film, have already made up their mind before they’ve seen the film, or worse, actively lie about what happens in the film to better support their own arguments. After all, how can we confront them when we haven’t seen the film? Many have claimed this is the sequence of events in the film: Chastain’s character and the CIA physically and mentally torture prisoners, get information, find Bin Laden. This is not true. Chastain and the CIA torture a prisoner in the beginning of the film, but he gives them no information. Over and over he refuses to tell them anything. They get the information from him by tricking him.

You can argue the film says they were able to trick him because of all torture he was subjected to, but in a scene where Chastain watches countless interrogation tapes that involve and don’t involve torture the film goes out of it’s way to show that she found the same information from many people who were not tortured at all. Every prisoner that was tortured in the tapes said nothing. Plus, the film shows multiple terrorists attacks that happen while the CIA is still using torture techniques. Wouldn’t a pro-torture film ignore those events to perpetuate their pro-torture agenda? In the context of the whole film it seems pretty obvious Zero Dark Thirty is not pro-torture. Furthermore, the idea that is glorifies torture is asinine. These sequences are disturbing and sickening. There’s nothing enjoyable about watching these scenes, and if you understand cinematic language it’s glaringly obvious we’re meant emphasize with the people being tortured. The CIA agents are the monsters.


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Richard Eskow Explains the Central Demand of the Wall Street Protests – SANITY

Richard Eskow has written an article describing the Wall Street Protestors’ demands in one word – Sanity. Here’s a small sample from the article –

Here’s Occupy Wall Street’s “One Demand”: Sanity

Here’s how insane this country has become. You can find “liberal” pundits and leaders from both parties on every channel who will condemn American homeowners as morally bankrupt and unworthy of help. But the banks they trusted, who sold them mortgages on the false promise that real estate values would rise forever, and who then when on a crime spree, walked away free. And their CEOs are broacast and quoted as they were legitimate, mainstream American voices.

That’s insane.

While the middle class dies and the ranks of the poor swell, this country is talking about cutting the government’s spending. While one home in four is underwater, this country’s worried about the financial health of banks. While we fight two unnecessary wars, war criminals like Dick Cheney are given television platforms as if they were simply representing a different political point of view.

That’s insane.

I find these words compelling. I was reading the news when I came across an article in which Dick Cheney suggested that Barack Obama owed the previous administration an apology for criticizing their abandonment of civilized rules and their willingness to torture suspects. That is the world we live in, a place where we have prosecuted and executed a Japanese during the Second World War for waterboarding Americans but have no historical memory to realize it is a war crime. Currently the new media treats things like war crimes as matters of opinion, not facts based on law.

He’s quite right about the media finding certain points of view unpalatable. If tea party republicans threaten to destroy the credit of the United States it cannot be just their fault but the fault of both parties because that is the media narrative – both sides are corrupt and incompetent, a plague on both their houses. My loathing for the ineffectual Democratic Party can be noted by any reader but I can’t help but notice that in earlier debt ceiling votes the Democrats had no held the country as hostage. However, this simple fact could not be mentioned in media accounts because both sides “must” by definition be at fault.

It’s time for sanity, for reliance on the facts and a willingness to speak them. No she said – he said narrative, in which a media personality with the brain power of a small flower explains the horse race elements of a policy dispute but a real discussion in which the impact on Americans of the middle class are honestly discussed.

We can live in a world where things make sense, where justice matters and the media has a legitimate role to play in the political discussion that does no involve false equivalencies.

I strongly sympathize with the Wall Street Protestors. There is going to be a lot more of this. This is just the beginning. Those that make fun of the American Spring are out of touch with America and history.

History is in motion, not with the tired policies of our current place holder in the White House but with the disaffected and the unemployed, those that know the system no longer works.

James Pilant

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Andrew Comments On My Post, Gasland – The Documentary

Andrew Gates once again provides his usual intelligent commentary to one of my postings, in this case, Gasland – The Documentary.

These companies will DEFINITELY take advantage of land owners in a second if they can.

My paternal ancestors were coal miners from Kentucky. My great grandfather worked for the mining company for a very long time. When he retired, the company gave him a piece of land on one of the mountains (that they thought was worthless, of course) that they owned. That was sort of a tradition back in that time.

Anyways, about 10 years after he retired, another company comes to him and says that they found more coal on that mountain and that they wanted his permission to mine the coal from under his property. They offered him a fixed amount per month for the rights to mine.

My great grandfather, being a veteran of the mining industry, knew that the company would mine the coal as quickly as possible without regard to his property, so that they would only have to pay him a few thousand dollars for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of coal.

So my great grandfather told them that he would not give them rights to mine unless they paid him a fixed amount per ton of coal that was mined from his property. The company did NOT like those terms and tried everything in the book to get around it, but eventually they caved and accepted his terms. Because the company gave him so much grief about the terms of the mining deal, he also forced them to pay him a fee for every truck that went up and down HIS road to the mountain.

Its always a good story to tell to people who think that one man cant stand up to a large company.

I’m glad for the comment. There is no one in my family that has that kind of experience. (Pilants tend to be ministers, teachers and farmers although on rare occasions they may be found as Internet bloggers.)

Here’s another preview of Gasland: