“Zero Dark Thirty” plays it down the middle

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I decided to go check out the movie for myself thanks to the ringing endorsement by Senators Feinstein, Levin, and McCain:

“I thought it was terrible,” said Feinstein, one of a handful of lawmakers to see the film ahead of its limited release this week. “It is a combination of fact, fiction and Hollywood in a very dangerous combination.”

Despite concerns on the right that the movie was serving as a political propaganda piece for Team Obama, in actuality, the movie is rather apolitical, playing it pretty much straight down the middle. The movie does its best to avoid political commentary.

Skookum reassured as much last year:

Kathryn Bigelow is scheduled to direct the Bin Laden Film. She directed The Hurt Locker, if you recall there was no political motive expressed in that movie. It portrayed the characters who defuse the bombs in Iraq and she portrayed them in a manner that left the viewer breathless during the intense drama of the action scenes; at least I was breathing hard and my hands were shaking during those scenes. She did it, she showed us the men who do an unsung job and portrayed them as heroes. She didn’t promote the BS like the typical Hollywood Liberal of the Meryl Streep, Robert Redwood tradition of hating everything about America but the money.

In other words, she relied on artistic talent rather than Leftist rubbish to portray our heroes, a rare quality for our movie people.

She has a following and a name that can be developed. Do you really think she will jeopardize her future to make a propaganda movie for a failure like Obama.

A propaganda movie can also backfire on the Liberals and Obama leaving them shattered for decades. The world is not the naive place it was when Gore and Moore promoted their lies to the world.

I may be the only Conservative who feels this way, but I say let Bigelow make her movie. She, the Liberals, and Obama know the gamble of not portraying this mission accurately and the inevitable result of a propaganda movie becoming the laughingstock of the world.

There are many former service men and active military who will be watching this movie with the most critical eyes in the world. You aren’t going to fool these patriots. Let the cameras roll or should I say let the heads roll if you mess up.

And because we are given a movie that is evenhanded (were or were enhanced interrogation- oh, okay “torture”– not part of the narrative? It was, whether you agree they were effective or even necessary or not), those on the left are none too happy. I don’t believe the movie really makes the case for a pro-EIT agenda. It presents the harshness of it (dramatized- I really have doubts about the portrayal as anything but dramatized rendering over realism). But because it doesn’t follow the anti-EIT narrative in condemning “torture”, the movie is a “dangerous combination of fact, fiction, and Hollywood”. Was this ever said about purported documentaries like Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11?

I can understand concerns that the movie’s recipe might be a “dangerous combination” should it offend the perpetually offended, triggering their Jihad gene. But that doesn’t seem to be what Feinstein & company are really concerned about: It’s the idea that “torture” might have actually played a role in leading us to bin Laden.

EITs did play a role. And even though the movie focuses much of its attention around the efforts of its central character, the effort to capture/kill Osama bin Laden was an effort that spanned over 10 years, predating the events of 9/11, and involved many individual players as well as numerous agencies around the world.

Concerns about the movie’s affect and influence even had the acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell, release the following statement 3 days ago:

I would not normally comment on a Hollywood film, but I think it important to put Zero Dark Thirty, which deals with one of the most significant achievements in our history, into some context. The film, which premiered this week, addresses the successful hunt for Usama Bin Ladin that was the focus of incredibly dedicated men and women across our Agency, Intelligence Community, and military partners for many years. But in doing so, the film takes significant artistic license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate.

What I want you to know is that Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts. CIA interacted with the filmmakers through our Office of Public Affairs but, as is true with any entertainment project with which we interact, we do not control the final product.

Anyone who needs reminding of this simple fact would have to be duller than a doorknob.

One of 3 points Morell makes in how the movie “departs from reality”:

Second, the film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were the key to finding Bin Ladin. That impression is false. As we have said before, the truth is that multiple streams of intelligence led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Ladin was hiding in Abbottabad. Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well. And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved.

Note that Morell does not dispute that EITs did play a role in gleaning information (which consequently opened the door to obtaining other information; EITs in some regard, was a catalyst to achieving intell that was not directly gained through the EIT program).

In the end (As Morell reminds us), people should never forget when going to see this film: It’s just a movie. By its very nature, of course it’s going to be a Hollywood dramatization with artistic liberties (especially given how a number of details- including the name and bio of the lead character- have to remain classified).

One of the legendary lines of the Raid makes its way into the film:

‘For God and country – Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.’

The “problem”? It was never said. According to Richard Miniter in his new book, Leading from Behind, pg 152:

In reality, no one said: “For God and country.” That bit of gilding the lily came into the narrative later, likely from the media operations team.

Instead, the radio traffic was strictly by the book. “Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo, third deck.” Bin Laden had been spotted on the third floor.

The next transmission was also by the book: “Gernomi, E, KIA.” Bin Laden, enemy, killed in action.

Which version sounds more dramatic, however?

Movie, dramatizing historic events. Not a documentary.


10 Responses to ““Zero Dark Thirty” plays it down the middle”

  1. 1


    I took a gamble when I wrote the article on Bigelow; I assumed she was true to her artistic talents instead of a propagandizing lying pig like Moore and other Leftist stooges of Hollywood and the media.She is a fairly young woman with a long career ahead of her. A career that will last much longer than Obama’s, unless our simpletons in DC strike down the 22nd to accommodate our first imperial presidency.

    Feinstein has her drawers in a bind because a great propaganda opportunity was passed up to make an apolitical documentary. It was an opportunity to secure power for her and all Democrats, but why should we expect more from someone who closes the ability for Californians to get their CCW immediately after she gets hers.

    Hurrah for Bigelow, it’s hard for Lefties to resist the urge to become an Obama Stooge.

  2. 5

    Nan G

    When it comes on free TV I might watch it.
    Until then it can gather dust for all I care.
    The hoopla around it before it was out allowed Bigelow to state:
    “We encourage people to see the film before characterizing it.”

    So Sens McCain REP, Feinstein DEM, Levin DEM and Rep King REP are to be discounted unless my own lying eyes agree with their assessment AFTER paying to see it?

    They seem like a pretty balanced group from both Left and Right.
    And they all say the same thing: The film was grossly inaccurate and highly misleading.

    As fiction or revisionist history I am sure it fills a niche.

  3. 6

    Richard Wheeler

    Like Skooks I thought The Hurt Locker a great movie and deserving of it’s Best Picture Academy Award. Look forward to this one and Word’s review sounds pretty good.
    Would recommend Argo as a very well done movie based on rescue of American diplomats in hiding during the hostage crises.
    My wife and I love to go to a good movie—most times two shhh.
    Don’t think Hollywood “teaches kids how to kill” Not so sure about violent video games many young boys seem obsessed with. Ya wanna shoot and learn gun safety and respect for weapons join The Marines. Still looking For A Few Good Men and Women! Ooh Rah

  4. 7



    Thanks, Richard.

    To be honest, I was actually a bit “bored” by the movie. And things seemed jumbled together- like cramming 10 yrs of work by many players into a 3 hr movie, focused on a handful.

    I liked the perspective taken at Lawfare Blog. It’s a good review.

  5. 8



    Pentagon Civil War Over ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Revealed by Internal Report:

    A newly released report from the Department of Defense’s inspector general reveals that there was a fight within the Pentagon over whether to cooperate with filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal in the making of Zero Dark Thirty, which chronicled the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

    According to the report, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Mike Vickers led the effort to secure cooperation for the filmmakers, but other senior Pentagon officials remained deeply skeptical of the collaboration. Phil Strub, the department’s director of entertainment media, told investigators that he wasn’t eager to assist the filmmakers because he had been unhappy with Bigelow and Boal’s portrayal of the military in their Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker — an intense depiction of the rush of combat, told through the eyes of a bomb-disposal technician.

    But Strub’s concerns were overruled by his superiors. “I wasn’t given the choice of whether to authorize it or not,” he told investigators, “I mean, these senior people do whatever they want.”


    the men behind that raid were far more reluctant to have that story told than the head honchos at the Pentagon.

    The report dispels accusations that Bigelow and Boal were allowed to meet a special operations planner, and it indicates that U.S. special forces were loath to cooperate with Bigelow and Boal. Admiral Bill McRaven, the brains behind the raid that killed bin Laden and now the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, told Vickers at the outset that he wanted no part in the project. Shortly thereafter, SOCOM’s public affairs officer informed Strub in an email that “there was already too much information released concerning the bin Laden raid” and that SOCOM “has obvious concerns about DoD providing any support for this effort.”

    Despite this reluctance, Vickers pressed ahead and granted Bigelow and Boal wide-ranging support. Together with Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson, Vickers worked to smooth the way for a project that had the potential to be a public relations bonanza for the Pentagon. Wilson told investigators that Bigelow and Boal’s “previous experience with [Strub] had been mixed and I wanted [Bigelow and Boal] to know, look, you know, if you’re — if you’re having problems getting answers or things like that, let me know and, you know, we’re not going to put walls up here.” Wilson also tried to overcome resistance to the project within the special forces community, telling Boal and Bigelow in an email that he would “work to unclog the SOCOM pathway for you.”

    But despite Vickers and Wilson’s insistence, Bigelow and Boal never got the briefing from the SOCOM planner that they had sought. Instead, they got something better: a public viewing of the SEALs responsible for killing bin Laden.

    Boal attended an awards ceremony — held June 24, 2011, at CIA headquarters — for individuals involved in the bin Laden raid, as did several of the special operators involved in the mission. Despite the fact that protecting these men’s identities was a “top priority,” according to the report, the SEALs were seated prominently at the front of the ceremonies, complete with name tags on their chests.

    At the end of the event, Boal even met McRaven, who told investigators that “somebody brought somebody up to me and said this is Mr. so-in-so. He’s the same guy who did The Hurt Locker, and of course I was admittedly a little surprised.”

    The IG report was produced in response to questions from Congressman Peter King, a Republican from New York. Those questions hinted at suspicions that the White House had been involved in generating support for the project within the Pentagon. The report found no evidence to support those allegations, which insinuated that the White House had done so for the president’s political benefit.

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