EW Review of Zero Dark Thirty: "Torture Worked"

Contra Spencer Ackerman, Owen Gleiberman, film reviewer for Entertainment Weekly, writes:

Part of the power of Zero Dark Thirty is that it looks with disturbing clarity at the ''enhanced interrogation techniques'' that were used after 9/11, and it says, in no uncertain terms: They worked.

As Andrew Sullivan notes, this is simply false, and is a huge moral problem for Kathryn Bigelow. She has to stand up now, it seems to me, and refute this conclusion about her film.

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    Of course she will refute it. Eventually. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:28:25 PM EST
    And tangentially. After the movie gets piles of free PR over the 'controversy'...

    I think before Oscar voting starts (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:31:01 PM EST
    Don't you?

    Not sure it really matters to the Oscar race (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:27:42 PM EST
    It won't win the Oscar anyway, simply because a different Katherine Bigelow war movie just won 2 (3?) years ago.

    If Michael Hazanavicious made another silent picture about a silent film star this year, it would not win either, no matter how good it was.


    "The Master"? (none / 0) (#41)
    by oculus on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 08:44:32 PM EST
    Also, must Clint apologize?'

    'Argo' or 'Lincoln' (none / 0) (#46)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 09:48:13 PM EST
    ...off the top of my head.
    Clint doesn't need to apologize. He's Clint.

    seem prudent.

    That's my calculus too (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:38:17 PM EST
    Early January.

    I'm not so sure (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dadler on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:33:53 PM EST
    The public perception of torture, sadly to say, is that it DOES work. So, if you're talking audience, I think it's moot.  BUT...if you're talking industry, which is all that matters for awards, then yes, she must repent.

    Yes, talking industry here (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:38:00 PM EST
    Then it's all about EGO (none / 0) (#12)
    by Dadler on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:41:05 PM EST
    Do you blow the peeps that feed you or the ones who clothe you? The answer is obvious.

    I know (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by lentinel on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:30:12 PM EST
    that I am a broken record on this, but I blame the perception that torture works on the fact that the current occupant of the White House has done little or nothing to distance himself from the unsavory legacy of his predecessor.

    So we're still stuck in the mindset laid upon us by the Bush administration.


    But Hollywood is high school with ashtrays (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:36:50 PM EST
    So who the phuck knows. Surface is all that matters, but polish is quite vital. The entire town is like an incest farm minus the family love.

    From what I have read so far (5.00 / 4) (#40)
    by lilburro on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 08:35:38 PM EST
    I agree with you.  The gist I've gotten so far is that the movie is close to journalism, except it's not, because they have to compress details, and it's not a documentary.  From the Peter Bergen link you linked to earlier, BTD, the screenwriter Boal says

    "I wanted to approach the story as a screenwriter but do the homework as a reporter."

    WTF?  That's a bullsh*t attitude if you're changing the facts and circumstances to fit your story.  Pretentious and unserious on top of that, and if I was a reporter I would be offended by the comparison.  Just tell the truth, you want to fill seats and you want to win awards.  So you get free PR that not only teases the brutality of the torture ($$!!) but makes you appear Very Serious (maybe you can even spark an Intellectual Debate about your own movie!!).  What an upside!

    I would like her (or her screenwriter) to comment on it in a more complicated way than "oh I'm journalist except when it's convenient for me not to be" but I don't know if I see that happening.


    I'm sure she will, when she isn't (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:33:01 PM EST
    otherwise describing it as a journalistic, boots-on-the-ground film.  Which isn't a documentary.

    Or something.

    What the he!! (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by Zorba on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:40:26 PM EST
    is a "journalistic, boots-on-the-ground film," anyway?  It's either a documentary, or it's not, and if it's not entirely factual (as best as can be determined), then you don't bring the word "journalism" into it.  At most, you can say "based on a true story."  At most.  (Preferably, "loosely based on a true story.")

    Or (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by lentinel on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 05:46:44 PM EST
    "loosely based on an agenda postulated by unscrupulous thugs".

    Heh (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:37:39 PM EST
    Listening to the podcast... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:33:32 PM EST
    I agree that too many people really don't care how repulsive the torture is if it is portrayed as working. If Bigelow was relying on that to offset her factual error, if one was made, then she indeed needs to explain that.

    These events are too current to toy with the facts in that way.

    The more I read, the worse I feel... (5.00 / 2) (#60)
    by Anne on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 02:03:03 PM EST
    Marcy Wheeler has a post up today that's quite enlightening; here's an excerpt:

    Although many people have been long familiar with her name and career, there seems to be new buzz about the identity of the female CIA operative lionized in the bin Laden killing and talk of the town movie "Zero Dark Thirty".

    The Twitters are abuzz this morning, but this article from John Cook at Gawker last September tells the tale:

       Her name is Alfreda Frances Bikowsky and, according to independent reporters Ray Nowosielski and John Duffy, she is a CIA analyst who is partially responsible for intelligence lapses that led to 9/11. The two reporters recently released a "documentary podcast" called "Who Is Richard Blee?" about the chief of the agency's bin Laden unit in the immediate run-up to the 9/11 attacks and featuring interviews with former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, former CIA agent Bob Baer, Looming Tower author Lawrence Wright, 9/11 Commission co-chairman Tom Keane, and others. In it, Nowosielski and Duffy make the case that Bikowsky and another CIA agent named Michael Anne Casey deliberately declined to tell the White House and the FBI that Khalid al-Mihdhar, an Al Qaida affiliate they were tracking, had obtained a visa to enter the U.S. in the summer of 2001. Al-Mihdhar was one of the hijackers on American Airlines Flight 77. The CIA lost track of him after he entered the U.S.

        Bikowsky was also, according to Nowosielski and Duffy, instrumentally involved in one of the CIA's most notorious f*ck-ups--the kidnapping, drugging, sodomizing, and torture of Khalid El-Masri in 2003 (El-Masri turned out to be the wrong guy, and had nothing to do with terrorism). As the Associated Press' Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo reported earlier this year, an analyst they described only by her middle name--"Frances"--pressed for El-Masri to be abducted even though some in the agency weren't convinced he was the terrorist that Frances suspected he was. Instead of being punished or fired for the error, "Frances" was eventually promoted to running the Global Jihad Unit by then-CIA director Michael Hayden. According to Goldman and Apuzzo's story, "Hayden told colleagues that he gave Frances a pass because he didn't want to deter initiative within the counterterrorism ranks."


    It is fairly amazing Bikowsky's name has been kept out of the real limelight surrounding Zero Dark Thirty this long, considering her known involvement in the other issues, especially the one about gleefully horning in on the torture show viewing. An attitude that speaks volumes as to the prominence of and apologia for torture in Zero Dark Thirty. I guess that is what happens when the government and CIA give Hollywood carte blanche to protected information and clandestine operatives like Alfreda Frances Bikowsky.

    And Bikowsky still has a job, believe it or not, which is even more stomach-turning.


    That is my post (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by bmaz on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 08:48:13 PM EST
    And, for the record, I think I was too quick to determine that Bikowsky is necessarily "Maya" from the movie. Many factors line up quite nicely; many others, upon further reflection do not as well. It appears that Bigelow uses composite characters, and I still suspect Bikowsky may be part of a composite "Maya" but am not certain.  The rest, as to Bikaowsky's failures and rise through the ranks in spite of them - and the European Human Rights Court judgment is a HUGE deal - if anyone would pay attention to it.

    I'm sorry, bmaz - I completely missed that (none / 0) (#69)
    by Anne on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 06:25:26 AM EST
    it was your post and not Marcy's - d'oh!

    As you say, though, whether Bikowsky is or isn't in whole or in part meant to represent the female heroine of ZDT, the larger question is why the real Alfreda Frances Bikowsky still has a job, much less why she got promoted.  

    But I'm sure all the heat and light will be on the movie itself and not on the underlying issues and questions that surround it; bet you a nickel that if there's any outrage or anger surrounding the film it will be because it didn't get some prestigious nomination or win some award, not that it may have revealed, because of the unprecedented access accorded Bigelow's team, more unsavory aspects and actions of this great government of ours that apparently no one in that government has any particular problems with.

    Oh, what the hell - it's not like we ordinary folk who aren't potentially making government-friendly films stand a snowball's chance of ever getting answers to our questions...state secrets and all that, you know.

    As much BS as we're fed, and as much in the dark as we're kept, it's a wonder we all don't have mushrooms sprouting from our heads.


    For What It's Worth... (none / 0) (#70)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 12:27:04 PM EST
    ...MSNBC is reporting that 'Maya' didn't get promoted.  It also had this gem:
    Valerie Plame, a former CIA officer whose covert identity was blown by a newspaper columnist, is someone who can relate with the real-life "Maya."

    "It clearly was her obsession and her perseverance and her desire," she told TODAY. "She sounds like a pretty gutsy woman and I'd love to have a drink with her one day."

    Seems unlikely Plame would relate to Bikowsky.

    I agree with everything you have said about this part of our intelligence community, I would imagine most of us would shudder if we actually got the truth about the terrorism/jihad unit.  And while many seem to be making the assumption that the CIA is having problems keeping secrets of late, I would argue that it's probably relative.  That there are so many deep and unsavory secrets that the latest round only seems like more because the number of really bad deeds has increased dramatically.


    "Michael Anne Casey"? (none / 0) (#63)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 03:09:04 PM EST
    Odd mix of given names...

    That is stunning. (none / 0) (#65)
    by shoephone on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 06:40:12 PM EST
    Andrew Sullivan does underscore (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by KeysDan on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 04:17:23 PM EST
    that he has not seen the movie and will reserve his critical review.  However, he does offer up his critical preview based on film reviewers reviews--including that of Owen Glieberman whom he feels is a talented writer for Entertainment Weekly.  

    Glieberman claims that the torture depicted worked, in no uncertain terms.  Sullivan couches his acknowledged deficit in an assessment of the film with,  IF  the movie shows that torture got us information critical to the capture and killing of bin Laden it has a political agenda--justifying war crimes as an essential part of our war on terror.

    To me, if the premise of the movie is that torture was instrumental to catching and killing bin Laden, it will, at least, make the Cheneys of the world ditch their old chestnut of torture being necessary in the case of the "ticking bomb."  Instead, torture, it seems,  will be efficacious only  if the product of torture gives a vague tip about a possible key event, such as a courier; that tip becomes an obsession for a CIA desk warrior for ten years; a Pakistani asset provides the real name of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti;  a Lamborghini is purchased and given to another asset for a telephone number; and an easily spotted  white SUV with a spare tire on the back is fortuitously around for tracking purposes.  And then there is that Seals part.

    As for Ms. Biegelow and her screenwriter partner, Mr.  Boals, they should have written a roman a clef--we do not yet have a good historical record, and a Hollywood version, no matter how good the art form, runs the risk of becoming the national memory.

    I do not think that  Ms. Biegelow will recant, for that would infer that she needed some grisly action since having Maya rummage through the CIA file cabinets for two hours would lack attention-holding zest.  More likely, she will cling to her position that there is a difference between depicting torture (which the film does) and glorifying it (which the film doesn't)   And, it may be so--and, so far, we have a misreading of the film.

    24 "proved" torture works, too. (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by observed on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 09:16:05 PM EST
    And Oliver Stone "proved" something about JFK's assassination (though I have no idea what, because you'd have to do a Clockwork Orange on me to get me to watch one of his films).

    Moral problem? As in, what? (5.00 / 5) (#51)
    by Anne on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 06:50:20 AM EST
    "I didn't mean for people to get the message that torture worked?" or "I was hoping there would be enough ambiguity about the value of torture that I wouldn't have to be backpedaling and tap-dancing and straddling the fence between morals and acclaim?"

    It's stretching all kinds of credulity to think that, as they were putting this film together, doing the editing and screening it internally before it was screened for critics, it was some kind of shock that "torture worked" was the message people were walking away with.

    Maybe Bigelow overestimated the intelligence of the average person who would see this movie, or maybe she was in too much of a rush to make "the" film about the bin Laden killing, but seems to me that realizing she has a "moral problem" now is a lot like closing the barn door after the horses have bolted.

    I think her comments, and those of other members of her team, which seem to be geared toward having it both ways, are an indication - to me, at least - that she doesn't see this as a moral problem, but as a business problem.

    Yup (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by lilburro on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 12:04:49 AM EST
    I think her comments, and those of other members of her team, which seem to be geared toward having it both ways, are an indication - to me, at least - that she doesn't see this as a moral problem, but as a business problem.

    And isn't that troubling.  The distance between her and someone like Jerry Bruckheimer is pseudo-artiness, it seems.  IOW, no real difference.


    Also lets be clear (3.50 / 2) (#18)
    by Slado on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:46:03 PM EST
    Just because you don't want something to be true doesn't mean it isn't or didn't happen.

    I for one believe that harsh interrogation techniques probably played a part in us catching Bin Laden.

    Doesn't mean it was right.  Doesn't mean we wouldn't have caught him if we didn't but it did happen and we did catch him.

    Is BTD in favor of censorship when a movie doesn't fit his political narrative?   Are you maintaining we didn't take this guy to a Black Site, rough him up and get a name?

    Are you maintainnig we should leave that part out if it did happen becuase it encourages torture?

    Should Robert Duval not have famously said..."I love the smell of Napalm in the morning" because it glorified the use of Napalm?

    I'm confused.

    Doesn't make it true (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:49:13 PM EST
    I for one believe that harsh interrogation techniques probably played a part in us catching Bin Laden.

    By all accounts it is true (1.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Slado on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:59:44 PM EST
    Again it doesn't make it right.

    The end doesn't justify the means.

    Lets also remember we executed Bin Laden.   We didn't capture him.  We killed him.

    Why is torture even the main controversy?  

    Is it OK to Kill terrorists, just not torture them?


    "By all accounts it is true" (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by shoephone on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 04:14:24 PM EST
    Really? By ALL accounts? Whose accounts are ALL the accounts about torture? How far back do those accounts go? Two years? Ten Years? How about 30-40 years, during the times of Pol Pot and the Latin American dictators? How about going back hunderds of years, to the Spanish Inquisition? Have you included those accounts in "all accounts"?

    Sounds like a lot of ideological brain farting on your part.


    Yes, you certainly are confused. (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by shoephone on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:49:28 PM EST
    Bin Laden wasn't an actor playing a character in a movie. Duvall's an actor who was playing a character in a movie. Get the difference?

    By the way, what you "believe" about the use of torture is irrelevant to whether torture actually works.


    No (1.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Slado on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 04:01:58 PM EST
    So are you saying the tortured guy isn't a character and it didn't happen.

    Or is the lefts point that it did hapen and...

    a) we shouldn't talk about it


    b) sure it happened but that intel didn't help capture Bin Laden

    Neither makes sense to me.

    Seems to me the Left has put a lot of political capital in the mantra that torture never works.

    In this case it appears to have worked and the left is throwing a fit over it.

    Response from Wired


    You are still confused (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by shoephone on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 04:09:02 PM EST
    As evidenced by that thoroughly convoluted comment.

    Straw mantras (5.00 / 5) (#34)
    by Yman on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 05:13:46 PM EST
    Seems to me the Left has put a lot of political capital in the mantra that torture never works.

    Much easier to knock down when you add those absolutes

    In this case it appears to have worked and the left is throwing a fit over it...

    By all accounts it is true

    Uhm, ... no.  Not "by all accounts".  I don't even know what "accounts" you're talking about.

    "To the best of our knowledge, based on a look, none of it came as a result of harsh interrogation practices," - Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    Torture Did Not Lead the U.S. to bin Laden, It Almost Certainly Prolonged the Hunt - four former interrogators and intelligence officials.

    "By making a detainee less likely to provide information, and making the information he does provide harder to evaluate, they hindered what we needed to accomplish," - Glenn L. Carle, a retired CIA officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002.



    I (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by lentinel on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 04:11:05 PM EST
    don't think that the Robert Duval line is analogous.

    The line you quote is a portrayal of the personal feeling of an individual.

    What I am reading here is that the thrust of the movie is to portray, in a style which simulates a documentary, that torture worked. That is propaganda.

    I am curious why you are inclined to believe that in fact torture was instrumental in getting the information that led to the killing of B.L.

    It is apparently true that we (A) tortured people - for years. It is also true that (B) we, our government, killed Bin Laden. But because B followed A doesn't mean that there is a causal relationship between the two events.


    In your movie (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 04:21:18 PM EST
    did Romney win the election too?

    LOL. (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by shoephone on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 04:46:02 PM EST
    By all accounts (5.00 / 4) (#35)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 05:35:26 PM EST
    ha! (none / 0) (#38)
    by sj on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:13:42 PM EST
    It mars her career if she doesn't (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:35:56 PM EST

    Kathryn Bigelow is telling a story ... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:57:05 PM EST
    ... based upon actual events in which torture, whether we like it or not, played a part in our intelligence activities.

    I believe that as a moral imperative, torture is simply the wrong thing to do. Whatever actionable information may have been produced from such extra-legal sessions -- if any -- is no doubt going to be obtained much more by accident, than by any actual design.

    Granted, I have not seen "Zero Dark Thirty" yet, but even so, I can't help but think that some people are perhaps (and / or purposely?) reading more into the director's and screewriters' actual intent than what was probably there when they were putting the story to paper.

    Nevertheless, you're ultimately right in noting that Ms. Bigelow will probably be compelled to address this controversy, regardless of however manufactured she and / or others might believe it to be. She should state publicly for the record -- and sooner, rather than later -- her belief that as a rule, torture does not work, and as a moral issue, torture is an abomination.

    Controversies and misunderstandings grounded in ethics and morals are like potential conflicts of interest, in that the mere appearances of such can often cause more damage than than the real thing if ignored or left unaddressed. Simply kicking the can down the road holds rich potential to create even more problems in the future.


    Well put (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Slado on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:32:33 PM EST
    Why do we have to keep fighting this fight?

    Isn't Obama president?   Isn't Cheney gone?   What's the point?

    Also I am constantly reminded of the fake sense of morality in regards to this issue while Obama's drones execute "terrorists" routinely along with all sorts of by standards.

    Id personally rather be water boarded and live to tell about it then be vaporized from 30,000 feet.


    "Isn't Cheney gone?" (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by shoephone on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:46:03 PM EST
    Nope. Not nearly "gone" enough for my satisfaction.

    nope (5.00 / 3) (#33)
    by Amiss on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 05:04:51 PM EST
    He was on the news yesterday speaking.
    Guess who else is back on Fox News? You got it, Karl Rove. Boy that lasted a long time!

    I (5.00 / 3) (#36)
    by lentinel on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 05:41:17 PM EST
    wonder why Bush-era gargoyles are still the staple of mainstream television.

    Why has no one from the progressive left emerged as a fav for these shows? All we see is the same stream of right wing hacks selling us the same old soap.

    I personally think that the reason is that the aura emanating from the White House has not changed since Bush departed. We are still in the same mind set as we were before Obama took office. Because, I believe, Obama just does not see that there was anything deeply wrong with the policies of his predecessor. He has always viewed things through the same prism as Bush, Cheney, Rove and the rest. You cannot adapt to the mindset of a group of felons without becoming one.

    So we have the same salespeople selling us the same crappola.
    Because we have essentially the same people dictating policy.


    Well, there's an up and coming (none / 0) (#42)
    by oculus on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 08:53:29 PM EST
    radio/blogging/sports book guy in the wings.

    Good questions. (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by lentinel on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:47:42 PM EST
    Yes. Obama is President.
    Yes. Cheney is not gone.

    Obama will not let the nation face up to what it became during the Bush - Cheney years. He says, with a very straight face, that we must "move on" - all the while assuring that we cannot move on.


    Obama (none / 0) (#25)
    by Slado on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 04:06:29 PM EST
    Executed an Assassination of Bin Laden.

    Executes Assassinations of many terrorists through Drones.  Even more than his predecessor.

    Is that Bush's fault?


    Is that Bush's fault? (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by lentinel on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 04:25:37 PM EST

    He is no longer in office.

    But he has inspired and informed his successor.


    What you seek (none / 0) (#48)
    by MKS on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 10:35:56 PM EST
    has never been done before.

    The winners have prosecuted losers for war crimes.  The winners don't prosecute themselves, aside from perhaps a low level person or two.

    I have spent a lot of time on the issue of torture in Guatemala.  What they did there was a Truth Commission in return for basically amnesty.  And I can't say the trade off was a bad one.  The issue there was the outright denial that the Guatemalan Army tortured anyone.....with U.S. complicity.  Publishing the truth and exposing the lies means a lot.

    Your view of prosecuting Cheney is a nice daydream but you are asking for something that we have never done before.  Exposing Cheney and his pro-torture policy as the horrid stains on our country that they are, is good enough.....


    Being clear on never using (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by MKS on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 10:28:39 PM EST
    tprture is absolutely necessary.  We should have a clear policy of not torturing.  We actually did until Cheney.

    It is part of being a decent country.   Can't get more fundamental than that.


    Absolutely (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 07:26:57 AM EST
    We must have a clear policy on never using torture.

    ... with no punishment or accountability for violating the policy ...

    ... because we're the winners and that's never been done before ...

    ... and that makes it a silly daydream.


    As reluctant as I am to respond (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by MKS on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:12:13 PM EST
    to any of your posts, the subject here should be discussed more than it has.

    One example of prosecuting someone for War Crimes is Lt. Calley.  I was in the middle of a lot of arguments when that occured.  At the time, the Vietnam War was unpopular, and Lt. Calley murdered unarmed children, women and old men.  Even so, Captain Medina, the company commander, and the one who was more responsible than any other, was convicted of nothing.  No one higher up in the chain of command was ever in legal jeopardy.

    Hugh Thompson, the Warrant Officer who landed the chopper at My Lai and stopped the massacre, was not received well by quite a few.

    Calley spent three years, I believe, confined to quarters.  Those supporting him were quite adamant--Calley was fighting for us, you could never tell who the enemy was in Vietnam, etc.

    All that for a minor officer who killed truly innocent people.

    If you were to actually prosecute Cheney, you would, I believe, ultimately undermine anti-torture efforts....You would make Cheney a sympathetic figure in the eyes of many.  Those who are ambivalent on torture in the ticking time bomb scenario, for example--and Allen Dershowitz proves there are many otherwise liberal people who would go there--would be pushed into taking the position that waterboarding is not torture or that no one should care about what happens to people like KSM.  And KSM is far less sympathetic, to say the least, than the victims of My Lai.

    Such a prosecution, with an unsympathetic victim, although justifiable in theory, would only make Cheney a hero in the end.  

    I am no fan of Cheney, having researched his involvement in the atrocities in Guatemala as far as his role as Bush I's Secretary of Defense in 1989, his role in getting his friend from Wyoming Thomas Stroock installed as U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, and having found a published travel schedule showing him visiting Stroock in Guatemala during a period of cover-up of U.S. involvement in atrocities there and when the CIA was involved in some horring things there.

    I'd rather have a public acknowlewdgement of his evilness, than making him a martyr for using "enhanced interrogation techniques" against depraved terrorists.

    I won't have much more to say to you on this--given how unproductive that has proven in the past.   But this argument needs to be made.      


    Cheney would very, very likely be acquitted (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by MKS on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:14:24 PM EST
    That would be a horrible result......

    If he were ever put on trial (5.00 / 2) (#58)
    by jondee on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:23:54 PM EST
    which he'll never be, anymore than Charlie Rose's favorite guest, Kissinger will ever be..

    Also, putting these teflon-coated slime creatures on trial would open the most gigantic can of worms in history. Which "nobody" wants to see happen. Intelligence community-Pentagon-corporate American p.r nightmare of all time..


    Sorry, I don't have a crystal ball (none / 0) (#62)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 02:59:50 PM EST
    But that's some serious powers of prognostication, particularly considering there hasn't even been an investigation.

    Shorter version (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 02:56:22 PM EST
    Can't prosecute him because torture - while illegal - is popular.  Much better to have a "clear policy against torture" (we already have it - in the form of laws) with absolutely no sanctions or consequences, because such a prosecution might prove unpopular with the portion of the public that believes Jack Bauer is real.

    Pfffttt ...

    President Obama thinks there should be a full investigation - no cover-ups or grants of immunity from him  Oh, ... wait ...

    Never mind, ... that was candidate Obama.

    BTW - When has there ever been a "public acknowledgment of his evilness"?

    BBTW - Your analogy to the Mai Lai Massacre is seriously flawed.  Apart from standing for the proposition that Cheyney/et.al. should not be prosecuted because Medina wasn't punished and Calley was lightly punished.  (Calley was originally sentenced to life at hard labor, but the sentence was reduced after Nixon let him out pending appeal).  More importantly, the vast majority of the 26 men charged had already left military service and were exempt from prosecution.  Most importantly, one war-crimes whitewashing does not justify another.


    We Had A Clear Policy (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 12:10:11 PM EST
    It's why they needed lawyers to come in an mince laws we used to prosecute the Japanese soldiers who water-boarded Allied soldiers.

    It's why we sent them them offshore and it's why they created the designation enemy-combatants and special courts, a run-around of set policies.

    Bad guys will always justify their bad deeds.  No law or prosecution is going to stop that.  They knew it was wrong, people in the right don't have lawyers write up BS memos to justify their good deeds.


    Maybe Bigelow (none / 0) (#39)
    by kmblue on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:32:34 PM EST
    should make a movie about the South winning the Civil War.  Talk about credibility.

    A female Oliver Stone. (none / 0) (#43)
    by oculus on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 08:55:57 PM EST
    That would be a plus (5.00 / 2) (#53)
    by brodie on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 08:58:37 AM EST
    in my estimation.  There's more historical truth in some of his films and especially his latest Showtime "Untold History" than is found with the usual flag-waving, controversy-avoiding mainstream historians.

    But from the reviews it would appear Ms Bigelow is not in the skeptical Stone category but instead may have taken some inside establishment propaganda too much to heart.


    Controversy avoiding historians.. (5.00 / 2) (#59)
    by jondee on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:34:24 PM EST
    What are they good for..?

    I actually heard one call William Randolph Hearst a "self made man" on PBS the other night..

    And who can forget "our official historian" Arthur Schlesinger writing an entire biography of Andrew Jackson in which Jackson's Indian "removals" were almost completely glossed over..  


    I just wish that she (none / 0) (#64)
    by Amiss on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 06:09:58 PM EST
    had waited to portray anything ( good or bad) about the events. I wish she had used restraint in her desire to put out this movie ( with the oscars looming ) at this time.
    It diminishes her talent or lack thereof and I do hope the foreign press awards and the academy awards both recognize this fact in ignoring her in the nomination process.

    The best thing would be to ignore it where it hurts both Mz Bigelow and not aid them with your hard earned coins.


    Sure does raise awareness of the movie. (none / 0) (#44)
    by oculus on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 09:01:58 PM EST
    All good for Ms. Bigelow and the producers.

    I read enough to not give her (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by MKS on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 10:37:33 PM EST
    the benefit of the doubt.....I will not see the movie or financially benefit her by buying a ticket.

    Ditto. But we can't say we (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by oculus on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 11:40:00 PM EST
    weren't warned.

    embedded filmakers.. (5.00 / 2) (#55)
    by jondee on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 12:37:15 PM EST
    is what they want at the Pentagon. The more the better.

    Also, someone please name a war fought in the last 100 years in which torture, rape, murder, child abuse etc etc didn't follow, at some point, in it's train.

    What's our motto going to be from hereon in? "We'll try to keep it to a minimum"?



    Rape and pillage didn't suddenly (none / 0) (#68)
    by oculus on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 02:37:31 AM EST
    enter the history of war in 1900