Senators To Zero Dark Thirty Filmmakers:Your Film Is Inaccurate


In an unusual Congressional critique of Hollywood moviemaking, three United States senators on Wednesday lambasted “Zero Dark Thirty,” the new fictionalized film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, calling it “grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location” of the terrorist leader. In a letter to Michael Lynton, chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the senators — Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California; Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan; and John McCain, Republican of Arizona — weighed in on a public debate over how the film portrays the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of brutal interrogations against Qaeda suspects.

[... A] highly critical 6,000-page study of the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program [..]showed that information derived from waterboarding and other brutal techniques did not play a significant role in locating Bin Laden, who was killed in a raid by Navy SEALs in May 2011.

[...]The senators [...]say the movie is “factually inaccurate” and “has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner.” Their letter asks Sony Pictures to “consider correcting the impression that the C.I.A.’s use of coercive interrogation techniques led to the operation” against Bin Laden[.]

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    And those same Senators... (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Dadler on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:33:55 AM EST
    ...have done Zero Dark Nothing to address the egregious violations of human rights perpetrated by this nation in its War on Terra.  Perhaps if Obama hadn't been such a Republican caulksucker on this issue we'd be in a better place.

    But we're not. We're in an awful place, because the American people largely believe that, yes, torture work. Why wouldn't they when even lefty blogs like this were praising that phuckhole 24 TV show.

    We are digging our own grave, one shovelful at a time.

    make that Zero Dick Nothing (none / 0) (#18)
    by Dadler on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:36:27 PM EST
    just to be consistent.  

    I have a big First Amendment problem (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Peter G on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:04:41 AM EST
    with government officials (legislative, judicial, or executive) telling a filmmaker (fictional, semifictional, or documentary) that their message is "wrong" or "inaccurate" and that the film "has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner," if there is any possible implication that there could be consequences from not responding to the pressure. How about Michael Moore's films?  Oliver Stone's?  Who else's?

    I don;t see the First Amendment issue at all (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:07:35 AM EST
    On the contrary, it seems to me you are suggesting that public officials should not be setting the record straight.

    I find your suggestion much more alarming.


    Nothing wrong with setting the record straight (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Peter G on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:34:22 AM EST
    I specifically limited my comment to a direct request that the film be re-written, and further limited to any implication that there could be adverse consequences to the producers from not complying.

    Asking for accuracy seems ok to me (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:49:46 AM EST
    Heh (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by bocajeff on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:16:08 PM EST
    I have no problem with the 1st Amendment. The filmmakers have every right to make their movie. The Senators have every right to point out the inaccuracies.

    Politicians taking others to task for inaccuracies is a bit comical, no?


    Peter, I admire you (none / 0) (#35)
    by Towanda on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:46:48 PM EST
    but the first part of your message is about not calling out the filmmakers for being wrong and inaccurate, not about the call for revising it.

    Now, I do agree that the First Amendment protects artistic license to make an inaccurate movie.  

    Can I send these Senators my loooooong list of ahistorical movies that drive me crazy?  

    There oughta be a law!  But there won't be, and I will have to continue muttering in the movie theater and driving Mr. Towanda crazy.  But at least I only mutter in movie theaters.  He would tell you why he has to brace himself for seeing historical sites with me, because I will speak up when the docents are wrong.  Even in our country's Capitol,  in the Rotunda and again in the Statuary Hall.  Mr. Towanda loves to tell that story. . . .

    By the way, Spielberg's Lincoln takes artistic license in ways that are not only wrong about African Americans but that also continue to perpetuate harmful stereotypes.   Can I have a Historical Accuracy and No Harmful Myths Law, please?

    But it's a lovely movie, and maybe it will make people read more books.  Maybe the book upon which it is based . . . although I'm rereading it and again am reminded of Kearns Goodwin's errors.  Sigh.


    Sorry if my sentence structure was too awkward (none / 0) (#37)
    by Peter G on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:56:22 PM EST
    but there is no "first part" of my comment that was meant to be read separately from the entire sentence, which has a compound beginning (upset about these two things together) coupled with an "if" condition.  BTW, Towanda, do I remember correctly that you are a professional historian - a professor of history? I'd love to hear your commentary on Lincoln in some open thread soon.  We saw it last weekend and both loved it. Almost as much for the Tony Kushner script as for the brilliant acting and compelling story line.

    "officials setting the record straight" (none / 0) (#5)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:19:37 AM EST
    You are on roll, BTD.  Very droll.

    They are here (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:24:51 AM EST
    I'm not sure if you do not accept that, and frankly, not particularly interested either.

    Pretty casual with your dismissive insults, BTD, (none / 0) (#8)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:37:52 AM EST
    considering that you've nothing but conflicting and unproveable assertions by various government proxies to buttress your case.

    Is saying I don't care (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:49:21 AM EST
    what you think an insult?

    So be it.


    "Unproveable assertions" - heh (none / 0) (#41)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 02:37:55 PM EST
    By "various government proxies", do you mean Senators who have actually seen the classified reports and gone on the public record with their statements, or the actual interrogators and intelligence officials who have stated that "enanced interrogation" not only didn't help find Bin Laden, but actually hindered the hunt for him.? (One more for good measure).

    As opposed to what?  A movie?


    People believe what they choose to believe... (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:38:26 PM EST
    Your citations were unilluminating.  Partisan hack Feinstein vs. partisan hack King.  As for your other cite, "the actual interrogators" were not the actual interrrogators at all.  You saw what you wanted to see; that's called confirmation bias.

    The real sin, as Glen Greenwald succinctly stated:

    It is a true sign of the times that Liberal Hollywood has produced the ultimate hagiography of the most secretive arm of America's National Security State, while liberal film critics lead the parade of praise and line up to bestow it with every imaginable accolade.

    To be fair (none / 0) (#53)
    by CoralGables on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:47:05 PM EST
    Anyone that is praising or criticizing that hasn't seen the movie (Greenwald included) is a hack.

    Heh. The very first line of Greenwald's (none / 0) (#59)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:48:26 AM EST
    I've now seen "Zero Dark Thirty".

    By your own definition, you're a hack.


    And why would I be a hack? (none / 0) (#61)
    by CoralGables on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 08:08:00 AM EST
    I haven't praised or criticized nor reviewed the movie. Indeed in all the chatter about the movie at TL, I believe my only mention is it's rated R and thus unlikely to reach the ranks of an all time box office hit.

    Yes, in this case, I'd call Greenwald a hack, along with everyone else that is praising or criticizing without first viewing the movie.

    Perhaps in your need to criticize you've mistaken me for someone else.


    Are you blind? (none / 0) (#66)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 01:14:51 PM EST
    Are you? (none / 0) (#69)
    by Yman on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 08:51:39 PM EST
    From the second line of the article ...

    "Before getting to that: the controversy triggered this week by my commentary on the debate over that film was one of the most ridiculous in which I've ever been involved."

    Link to Greenwald's prior piece which he wrote a few days ago before he saw the movie.

    In fact, Greenwald spends the next several paragraphs defending his criticism of the movie which occurred before he saw it, and was based upon reviews he had read.


    I choose to believe ... (none / 0) (#56)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:32:06 PM EST
    ... experts and evidence.

    You choose to believe a movie.

    That's not "confirmation bias" ... that's just funny.


    Nice job on the strawman, Yman. (none / 0) (#58)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:44:52 AM EST
    I didn't say anything about liking or disliking, believing or disbelieving the premises of the movie, which I haven't seen and will not.  I made my feelings on torture known back when the news of its utilization first surfaced.  It didn't change anything then and won't change anything now.

    I made a simple point, that belief poisons reason, which you laughed off by reemphasizing your credulity.


    And I made a point, too ... (none / 0) (#70)
    by Yman on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 08:57:27 PM EST
    ... that your criticisms of BTD's position were based on "nothing but conflicting and unproveable assertions by various government proxies to buttress your case."

    I provided links to actual interrogators (experts) and Senators who have read the classified reports which support the position.

    You've provided nothing but your own opinion.


     actual letter wouldn't it be that the government officials have the right to express their opinions?

     You condition your having a problem on the existence of " any possible implication" there could be consequences but you don't make any effort to explain how one could infer a possibility of governmental action, which I believe would be the only "consequence" which would truly raise 1st Amendment issues.


    Actually, no. (none / 0) (#54)
    by Peter G on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:24:31 PM EST
    Government officials speaking in their official capacities do not have First Amendment rights; they are the government.  The people have First Amendment rights to protect them from the government, not the other way around.

    Thank you for explaining this and other (none / 0) (#60)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:58:56 AM EST
    subtleties of the law, Peter.  

    - From Wiki's description of the opinion, "the majority's firm line against the First Amendment"

    Gotta wonder where this all ends up.

    So what happened to the victim of the deficient warrant?


    Which victims of what warrant (none / 0) (#62)
    by Peter G on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 08:52:49 AM EST
    are you asking about, Mr. N? (Love that handle, by the way.)  If you clarify, I will try to respond.

    This may be the answer: (none / 0) (#67)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 09:48:29 PM EST
    From Wikipedia:
    After the defense attorney in a pending criminal case contacted Ceballos about his motion to challenge a critical search warrant based on inaccuracies in the supporting affidavit, Ceballos conducted his own investigation and determined that the affidavit contained serious misrepresentations. Ceballos contacted the deputy sheriff who had sworn out the affidavit, but was not satisfied by his explanations. Ceballos then communicated his findings to his supervisors and submitted a memorandum in which he recommended dismissal of the case. A meeting was subsequently held to discuss the affidavit with his superiors and officials from the sheriff's department, which Ceballos claimed became heated and accusatory of his role in handling the case. Despite Ceballos' concerns, his supervisor decided to proceed with the prosecution. The criminal trial court held a hearing on the motion, during which Ceballos was called by the defense to recount his observations about the affidavit. The trial court nevertheless denied the motion and upheld the warrant.

    Oh, sorry (none / 0) (#68)
    by Peter G on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 09:46:07 AM EST
    I didn't realize you were asking about the backstory to the Supreme Court case that I cited, Garcetti v Ceballos. Glad you found it.

    I believe you are applying that (none / 0) (#63)
    by Reconstructionist on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 09:05:02 AM EST
      much too broadly. Garcetti had to do with a government EMPLOYEE arguing that an adverse EMPLOYMENT decision made due to complaints he made to his employer was illegal because his "speech" was protected by the 1st Amendment.

      That's not readily analogous to an elected official making a public statement. In fact, and I admit it has been a long time since I read all of the the opinions, I believe the bare majority opinion stated that the facts in Garcetti were distinguishable from the situation we have here and made it clear  the decision did not stand for the proposition that government officials don't have 1st Amendement rights.

      "So long as employees are speaking as citizens about matters of public concern, they must face only those speech restrictions that are necessary for their employers to operate efficiently and effectively. See, e. g., Connick, supra, at 147 ("Our responsibility is to ensure that citizens are not deprived of fundamental rights by virtue of working for the government"). 527 US.

      I think the holding of the case is properly limited to:

    "We hold that when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline." 527 U.S. 421.

    Later stated as:
      Proper application of our precedents thus leads to the conclusion that the First Amendment does not prohibit managerial discipline based on an employee's expressions made pursuant to official responsibilities. Because Ceballos' memo falls into this category, his allegation of unconstitutional retaliation must fail. 527 U.S. 424

      I think the letter here is much more readily construed as goverment official speaking as citizens about a matter of public concern and on a topic outside the scope of their official duties as well precisely because they have no duty to comment on movie accuracy and the letter as I read it implies no potential official action by government.


    My husband laughed because if you have (none / 0) (#46)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 04:01:24 PM EST
    A security clearance you are never supposed to confirm or deny anything about anything that is classified.  He wants to know what in hell they are confirming or denying :)?

    I'm fine with this though.  Lets just go ahead and call bull$hit on what the film implies about torture right out of the gate.


    The senator's letter (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by KeysDan on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:00:33 PM EST
    to Mr. Lynton, Chair/CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, seems to treat the word, torture, somewhat gingerly and sparingly.  While "torture" is used in reporting that the film depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees, when reiterating  that torture is against the Geneva Conventions, does damage to  our honor, and its  wrong (how about being a crime?),  the senators' disavowal rests on the wording, "coercive interrogation techniques."

    As the senators chide the filmmakers as having an obligation to make it clear to movie audiences that intelligence information was not based on torture,  so too do the senators, themselves, have an obligation to the public not to mince words or otherwise wrap these interrogations in the euphemism of  "coercive techniques" or "the CIA program."  

    The senators make it clear that the CIA learned of the existence of a courier, his true name, and location using means unrelated to the detention and "coercive interrogation"   However, it  was curious, that their citation of former CIA Director Panetta omits the lead information part.  "...no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier's full name or specific whereabouts.  This information was discovered through other intelligence means."

    Well...I guess no good deed goes (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Anne on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:01:18 PM EST
    unpunished, does it?  It was all well and good for the government to provide unprecedented access to the film's makers, and give them information that well exceeded anything the American people had been told, but now that the movie isn't in line with what I guess the government expected it to be, it's time for indignation and outrage and calls for some kind of correction to be issued?

    I guess it would have been okay if the film had been a mouthpiece for the CIA, though, right?  Is the outrage because the movie's wrong, or because it has at least the partial imprimatur of the agencies involved with the bin Laden operation?  

    How these allegedly intelligent people didn't see this one coming, I couldn't tell you, but maybe wherever it is they have their heads is kind of dark.

    Now will the movie win an Oscar? (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by oculus on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:08:23 PM EST
    Great publicity.  

    At least someone's speaking out (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by vicndabx on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:33:51 PM EST
    IMO, it's a good thing these Senators are doing so.  We all have an obligation to do whatever we can in whatever small way to ensure the torture works narrative gains as little traction as possible.

    My younger brother wants to see this movie and had no idea about the controversy surrounding it until I told him.  It's going to be an educational experience for him when I take him next month.

    I've heard very little reported on the news about the "highly critical 6,000 page report."

    Bigelow (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by lilburro on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:44:31 PM EST

    However, Oscar-winning director Bigelow has fiercely defended her movie, telling Thewrap.com, "The point was to immerse the audience in this landscape, not to pretend to debate policy. Was it difficult to shoot? Yes. Do I wish (torture) was not part of that history? Yes, but it was."

    Screenwriter Boal adds, "The movie has been, and probably will continue to be, put in political boxes. Before we even wrote it, it was (branded) an (Barack) Obama campaign commercial, which was preposterous. And now it's pro-torture, which is preposterous... Everything we did has been misinterpreted, and continues to be..."

    "I'm not saying the film is a documentary of everything that happened, but it's being misread... Look at it as a movie and not a potential launching pad for a political statement."

    I like how our "artistes" see only "political" questions ...not questions of fact, ethics, importance, etc.

    I hope they get creamed in the awards shows, I assume that would be most hurtful to their vanity.

    Make it toxic (none / 0) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:52:47 PM EST
    The more "big brother" is a big meanie (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:54:53 PM EST
    to these Oscar-winning film makers, I would think the more the Oscar-voters would support them.

    Generally true (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:58:20 PM EST
    but being labelled pro-torture has to hurt.

    and if they believe torture "works," I would think.

    I think the average age of the Academy voters is about double what Reagan's was when he was elected, so who knows what is going on in their heads...


    Lincoln is right there (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:26:26 PM EST
    to be voted for.

    This controversy has devastated Zero Dark thirty's chances.

    Interestingly, if the move had shown torture NOT working, ut would have had a better chance of winning.


    Most interesting Oscar race in years (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:48:49 PM EST
    I'd rather watch snow melt (none / 0) (#40)
    by me only on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 02:08:19 PM EST
    than the Oscars.

    I've rather watch a double feature of (none / 0) (#44)
    by observed on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 03:26:22 PM EST
    Braveheart and Moment by Moment than the Oscars.

    Seth McFarlane (none / 0) (#57)
    by Amiss on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 12:31:04 AM EST
    Will bbe the only reason I watch, if I watch.

    Lincoln will kill.. (none / 0) (#47)
    by jondee on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 04:35:30 PM EST
    four or five awards at least, probably more..

    Bigelow's movie is toast, though it'll still probably make a lot of money.


    My take: (none / 0) (#23)
    by lilburro on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:01:33 PM EST
    the more Bigelow/Boal say "it's just a movie," the less likely it is that Oscar voters will see something special in it.

    But maybe not.  Honestly I have no idea how Oscar voters tick.  


    I think the pro-torture thing (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:05:05 PM EST
    will be devastating.

    Of courde it will be nominated, but voting in a pro toroture movie is just not going to happen.


    One word: "Braveheart" (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:10:44 PM EST
    What part of Braveheart (none / 0) (#27)
    by me only on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:19:18 PM EST
    was pro torture?

    Watching it. (5.00 / 4) (#29)
    by observed on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:27:15 PM EST
    The end where poor Mel is (none / 0) (#30)
    by oculus on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:27:55 PM EST
    about to be emasculated.  

    How is torturing the "hero" (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by me only on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 02:06:49 PM EST
    pro-torture?  I thought the point of the torture in that movie was to make us hate the British even more.  When Mel Gibson (or the very fictional William Wallace if you prefer) was tortured he did not repent, instead he died for his "fiefdom."  Which we all know means to bluff.  Gibson was probably playing cards and cheated...

    Sorry. It's just that I hated that movie (none / 0) (#39)
    by oculus on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 02:08:14 PM EST
    and can't really get into the fuss about this one either.  

    But it didn't work (none / 0) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:30:52 PM EST
    Braveheart you know.

    Also too, Gibson's Jesus movie.


    Wiki says "Braveheart" won 5 Oscars. (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:31:47 PM EST
    It wasn't pro-torture (none / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:40:48 PM EST
    really? (none / 0) (#43)
    by sj on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 03:01:08 PM EST
    about to be emasculated.  

    I thought he was about to be drawn and quartered but I just did a quick search and found this:
    Wallace was drawn for treason, hanged for robbery and homicide, disemboweled for sacrilege, beheaded as an outlaw, and quartered for "divers depredations."

    But I'm pretty sure that since Wallis/Wallace/Waleys was the hero that the movie wasn't exactly pro-torture.

    By the bye, even though wikipedia notes "no recorded children", a friend of mine says that family oral tradition has them as decendents of Willam Wallis.


    Well, if you believe (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Zorba on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 03:34:08 PM EST
    the following three sources  (Link.  Link. Link.) he was, indeed, emasculated.  But that was the least of what was done to him.  
    As your link indicates, being hanged, drawn, and quartered was an abominable, ugly way to die.
    And, like you, I don't believe the movie was "pro-torture."  Rather (despite all its faults, and there were many) one of the things it showed was that "the state" could and would commit all manner of atrocities and get away with it.

    Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by sj on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:36:27 PM EST
    after thinking about it, I didn't think they would pass on the opportunity to also emasculate him.

    By the way, one of your links mentions a daughter so my friend's claim could be valid.


    Well, as long as they don't claim (none / 0) (#48)
    by Towanda on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:10:26 PM EST
    to be descended from the child that the movie claimed that Wallace had with the French princess, fine.  But she was only five or six when he died.  And still in France.  

    And . . . please, for Christmas, can I have that Historical Accuracy Law?  

    Nah.  Then the movie could not have starred Mel Gibson, since he's a bit on the short side -- and Wallace was a towering type.  Although probably not seven feet tall, per the epic penned by Blind Harry, who would have been brought up on charges under my Historical Accuracy Law.

    Then again, my family is descended from kings, I tell you, kings of Ireland! according to the stories that, as my dad used to say, I learned at my great-grandpa's knee and other joints.


    How tall was "towering" back then? (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:15:24 PM EST
    Interesting question (none / 0) (#64)
    by Towanda on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 12:05:12 PM EST
    re average vs. "towering" heights then, with recent studies that we actually are, on average, shrinking.

    I have read that Wallace, based on some evidence or other, was more than six feet tall . . . but before the beheading.

    Blind Harry, of course, would not have seen him -- not only because he was blind, but because, like the French princess in the film, he was not there.

    The list of historical inaccuracies in the film is fun:  this was before tartans and kilts, they would not have painted themselves blue, etc.  But with a bit of the Scot in me, I can enjoy its inspiring message that has had impact there.


    Ha! You made me chuckle... (none / 0) (#65)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 12:27:34 PM EST
    I have read that Wallace, based on some evidence or other, was more than six feet tall . . . but before the beheading.

    ...and google!

    "Men living during the early Middle Ages (the ninth to 11th centuries) were several centimeters taller than men who lived hundreds of years later, on the eve of the Industrial Revolution," said Richard Steckel, a professor of economics at Ohio State University and the author of a new study that looks at changes in average heights during the last millennium.

    Steckel analyzed height data from thousands of skeletons excavated from burial sites in northern Europe and dating from the ninth to the 19th centuries. Average height declined slightly during the 12th through 16th centuries, and hit an all-time low during the 17th and 18th centuries.

    "Height is an indicator of overall health and economic well-being, and learning that people were so well-off 1,000 to 1,200 years ago was surprising," he said.


    According to Steckel's analysis, heights decreased from an average of 68.27 inches [5'-8.25"] (173.4 centimeters) in the early Middle Ages to an average low of roughly 65.75 inches [5'-5.75"](167 cm) during the 17th and 18th centuries.

    I wonder if they are the same kings of (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by caseyOR on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:09:46 PM EST
    Ireland from which my family descends. Or so goes the family story. :-)

    I suspect we have many more peasants on our family tree than kings. Still, who wouldn't be proud to claim Brian Boru as an ancestor?


    It is like this (none / 0) (#55)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:19:22 PM EST
    Me and Al graduated from the same school and each scored four touchdowns...or something like that.



    I think the comment (none / 0) (#9)
    by republicratitarian on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:47:54 AM EST
    brutal techniques did not play a significant role
    was telling. Sure we used brutal techniques,(not torture), we did gather information, but it didn't play a significant role.
    Does that mean it played a minor role?  

    Calling torture "brutal techniques" reminds me of when the military went from calling Search and Destroy missions to Movement to Contact, doesn't sound as bad.

    Oy (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:50:05 AM EST