Dec 22, 2012

ZD30 and the torture debate: why it matters

  "...when we go to war, our politicians will be guided by our popular will. And if we believe that torture “got” bin Laden, then we will be more prone to accept the view that a good “end” can justify brutal “means.”... Mark Boal has responded to critics by saying that, in the film, the actionable intelligence from Ammar, was obtained “over the civilized setting of a lunch.” But that’s disingenuous. Because the conversation occurs after brutal torture, the implication is that Ammar provides information because he doesn’t want to trade his hummus for a wet washcloth and a sojourn in a plywood box.... Over and over again, Maya watches DVDs of interrogations using waterboarding and other forms of torture as if these were useful techniques which provided actionable intelligence. She herself uses a fellow operative to be her “muscle,” punching a detainee when she does not get the answer she’s looking for. " — Alex Gibney      
Over a hundred suspects — not terrorists but suspects— were tortured to death by the CIA under Bush.  One suspect was beaten about his legs for such a long time the muscle tissue of his legs "pulpified." He died of his wounds and later turned out to be innocent (as documented in Gibney's film, Taxi to the Dark Side). In the last election, Republicans campaigned on their willingness to repeat Bush's policies, their one argument being the false one that "torture works."  Bigelow and Boal have transplanted that narrative into their film and increased, by a very small percentage point, the likelihood that people will be tortured by the US government again. That's why it matters. I am deeply impressed by Bigelow's movie — it's the best American film of 2012, in my opinion — but that doesn't remove the dismaying moral stain it bears. All those who think this has been cooked up by Harvey Weinstein are deserving of the deepest reserves of patience and understanding. 

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