Friday, December 14, 2012

Kathryn Bigelow: Not A Torture Apologist - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast:

But the simple juxtaposition of terror with torture in the film does not force an obvious conclusion. In some ways, like Spencer, I think it reveals the core truth behind Cheney's armchair warrior mindset. The torture was not for intelligence (and it provided nothing reliable as well as countless leads that were dead ends). It was for revenge. It was an emotional lashing out at often random Muslim suspects (and some genuine terrorists) for killing so many Americans. There was no reason behind it and no law. There was pure rage fueled no doubt by Cheney's guilt at being in charge when the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor happened. Cheney subsequently acted out - and yes, it was acting out, it wasn't a rational strategy - as a lawless third world dictator for a couple of years. But by 2008, we see the long-term consequences of this war criminal's rampage. We hear the CIA officer in charge of trying to get the culprits of 9/11 say: "We are failing."

What the movie also shows - importantly - is the evil of Jihadism, and its fanatical religious roots. It shows the terrorism as well as the torture. The easy view that all of this torture was based on hallucinatory threats is rebutted. We see the 7/7 London bombings in horrific detail; we see the heroine's car suddenly peppered with bullets as she leaves the Pakistani embassy; we see her in a hotel blasted to smithereens; we see a key CIA analyst tricked and blown to bits by a suicide bomber. The evil of the enemy is as clear as the evil of Cheney. That matters. Evil begets evil.

And the heroine of the movie is at first appalled by what she sees in the torture rooms. Then she is made complicit, then numb, then desperate. But her strength comes from a passion to get bin Laden and a persistent insistence on tracing every tiny piece of evidence to its source, which means, in the end, on-the-ground human intelligence in Pakistan at great risk. In so many ways, this movie echoes what we are told the Senate Intelligence Committee report concludes. We got bin Laden when we stuck to Western values. When we acted like the Nazis or the Communists, we failed.