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View Diary: Bigelow's Tortured Excuses (22 comments)

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  •  I chickened out on writing a diary about this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    so thanks for bringing it back up.  I saw it two weeks ago.

    I went into the movie with a unique perspective - I was specifically looking for stuff that would piss me off since I was told by everyone that the movie would show that torture directly produced actionable intelligence that led to finding Bin Laden.  

    What I discovered was that I was pleasantly surprised to find the opposite.  Detainees were tortured.  That happened.  But not one of them produced information while under duress.  Only when they were treated well did they talk.  The movie was very specific about this and I'm certain Bigelow was trying very hard to depict that.  So, I'm on Michael Moore's and Mark Bowen's side of the argument.

    The fact (in the film - this is a work of fiction, remember) that they gave up information while being treated nicely but under the threat of future torture is irrelevant.  They had already been tortured in the past.  It was done.  Bush's policies created that culture of torture, and the bell couldn't be unrung.  We can't go back in time to find out what the detainees would have said if we had treated them humanely in the first place.  So, the argument causing all the outrage is that torture works because they are being threatened with it while eating fruit?  The threat of torture is worse than the act itself?  I don't buy it.  They all completely shut down during the process of torture.  100%.  It doesn't work, and the movie exceeded my expectations in proving it.

    I loved the digs on Bush later in the movie.  Iraq wasn't mentioned until about 90 minutes in, and was dismissed as a total failure.  Also, Obama on the TV denouncing the use of torture.  The CIA complaining about not being able to use dark sites anymore under Obama, and being told to "figure it out."  They did, and accomplished in 2 years what Bush couldn't do in 8 years.

    I didn't love the movie, because I don't see it as entertainment.  It made me uncomfortable throughout, but in the best possible way, if that makes any sense.  People will see the movie through their own filters I guess, but my attempt to see it filterless produced this opinion.

    •  This isn't what happened (6+ / 0-)
      The fact (in the film - this is a work of fiction, remember) that they gave up information while being treated nicely but under the threat of future torture is irrelevant.  They had already been tortured in the past.  It was done.  Bush's policies created that culture of torture, and the bell couldn't be unrung.  We can't go back in time to find out what the detainees would have said if we had treated them humanely in the first place.  So, the argument causing all the outrage is that torture works because they are being threatened with it while eating fruit?  The threat of torture is worse than the act itself?  I don't buy it.  They all completely shut down during the process of torture.  100%.  It doesn't work, and the movie exceeded my expectations in proving it
      .

      The fact is that they gave up information BEFORE they were tortured and began giving false information AFTER they were tortured.  That is what happened.  

      The detainees did not give up relevant information after being tortured or under the threat of future torture.  The sequence of events is important to show that the US torture regime not only didn't work, but was counter-productive.  The detainees began giving false information, really ridiculous stuff that wasted a lot of time and man power, after they were tortured.  None of that made the film.  

      If in the movie a detainee gives up information because he does not want to be tortured again - that is in fact a showing that torture works.  And its untrue - it never happened.  

      Regardless, the argument over whether torture works or not is ridiculous.  Whether or not it works doesn't matter - the fact is that the people who engage in torture are immoral - torture is wrong on its face.  People within the CIA and FBI argued that fact in real time, but were ignored.  None of that was shown in the film.  

      Whether or not you like the film is neither here nor there.  

      •  Thank you. Kossack Jennifer A Epps wrote... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite, Garrett, 714day

        ...a brilliant critique here two weeks ago, Torture and the Dark Side of ZERO DARK THIRTY and I highlighted it in Night Owls.

        Everybody should read that critique.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 10:36:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades

          ...I just read it and agree it is interesting and informative.

          But why should it matter if torture does or doesn't work? Why should it matter if torture is depicted as working or not, or if the victim or torturer is depicted as sympathetic or enemy? And why on earth should a film which can arguably be construed as presenting a CIA perspective be considered as potential influence on prosecutions?

          The case against torture is moral and tactical and those other considerations are not, or at least should not, be pertinent.

          IMO being opposed to torture has to be firm and consistent regardless of how despicable or non cooperative the victims may be, despite if it works or not, and despite the good or evil of the torturers. It's not  transaction.

          Also the power being imbued upon a movie, albeit maybe artistic but without doubt ultimately a commercial endeavor, seems unwise and irrational.  

          •  I agree with your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kck, burlydee, 714day

            ...but disagree with your 4th. Perhaps movies should not have the power embued them, but they do, and they have all the way back to at least 1915 when Birth of a Nation helped revive the Ku Klux Klan. Movies help move the cultural and political attitudes of the nation (sometimes the world). They are powerful influences and we just have to accept that reality. If they they weren't, we wouldn't talk so much about them.

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 11:31:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Why don't you ask the commander of West Point (0+ / 0-)

            about the power of even a purely fictional show like 24 on the torture "debate"?  You know, the one that got Kiefer Sutherland himself to come down and try to convince the cadets that torture is ineffective.  If Bigelow is invited by the commander of West Point to do the same will she do so or will she refuse because it would compromise her "neutral position"?

            You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 01:00:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The 'torture debate'... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Throw The Bums Out

              ...should be independent of if it works and certainly irrespective of the sage advice of a TV actor or a film director.

              Maybe West Point would be better served by using icons of philosophy, religion, wars, or history to help dissuade cadets from engaging in illegal behavior but TV/film? What a way to debase the whole issue IMHO.

              I get what you're saying but TV and film and any medium used for commercial purposes use exploitation, drama, sex, drugs, violence, greed, lust, etc. to gain audience.

              MB's example of Birth of a Nation having helped revive the Ku Klux Klan is a great example of my error. I can think of a few others. But generally I suspect (no expert here) they're more rare exceptions and am more inclined these days to beg the which-came-first-chicken-or-egg debate when it comes to film and culture. My vote is that film at best reflects our culture and drives little but exploits already deeply held drives.

    •  The problem for starters... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, 714day

      is that the person they show being tortured - and not giving up any information - but later telling them the code name is a real person who was never tortured.  There was no link between anyone being tortured and al-Kuwaiti.  All of the people who were tortured LIED about him.  Secondly, the film doesn't show the efforts of people in the FBI, State Dept and Military - let alone in the CIA who were also against torture.  Those techniques didn't stop because of President Obama, they were ended in 2005 after the CIA Inspector General's Report determined they were Illegal and Ineffective.

      Obama does deserve credit for restarting the hunt, but the picture the film paints is vastly oversimplified.  If they wanted to do an honest film about America's dangerous foray into torture, they would've addressed Abu Ghraib, they would've address the Bybee Memos, they would have address the fact Ali Soufan was the one who got most of the actionable evidence and personally threatened to ARREST the CIA Interrogators using harsh techniques - they would have pointed out how people Ibn Sheik al Libi and other led us down a rabbit hole of lies that help spark the pointless Iraq War.

      The movie fails on all these counts.

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