An Incurious ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Exclusive: Zero Dark Thirty, the big-screen chronicling of the manhunt for Osama bin Laden, has been hailed by some critics for its taut storytelling, but it fails to confront the larger questions about 9/11, including the complex history between the CIA and its target, writes Jim DiEugenio.

By Jim DiEugenio

On May 2, 2011, under cover of darkness, which is where the film’s title Zero Dark Thirty comes from, a platoon of Navy Seals was airlifted by two Black Hawk helicopters from Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan to Abbottabad, Pakistan.

A modified version of the Black Hawk was used because it employed “stealth” technology, i.e., it flew very quietly while being harder to detect on radar than the conventional model. To further evade Pakistani radar, the helicopters flew very low to the ground and deliberately navigated over hilly terrain.

The mission was codenamed Neptune Spear. And it was timed to consume precisely 40 minutes. The Seals operated under the aegis of the CIA and were working from information primarily garnered by the Agency.

Landing near their target in Abbottabad, the Seals cut the power to the large three-story home. They then broke in by detonating explosive charges around the doors and walls. One of the occupants began to fire at the Seals from inside. This man, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, was killed after a brief firefight. His wife was shot and wounded. His brother, Abrar, was also shot and killed.

As the Seals progressed through the house, a young man named Khalid was shot on the staircase. Finally, on the third floor of the home, one of the Seals found the ultimate target of the raid: Osama bin Laden. As bin Laden ran to his room, he was shot in the head and collapsed. Two women tried to shield his body. One of them was shot in the leg.

Bin Laden was shot two more times. His body was wrapped in a body bag and carried on board one of the helicopters. One Black Hawk had been damaged upon landing, so the Seals destroyed it. A back-up Chinook helicopter was called in from nearby to effect the escape. Thus ended a nearly ten-year manhunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Almost immediately after bin Laden’s death was announced by President Barack Obama, screenwriter Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow announced their intent to make a film about the manhunt and the Seals mission. That July, just two months after the raid, a high-level Pentagon intelligence officer named Mike Vickers told Boal and Bigelow they would allow a Seal involved in the planning of Neptune Spear to provide them information for Boal’s script. According to declassified documents of the meeting, Boal and Bigelow were overjoyed at this opportunity.  (Josh Gerstein, Politico, May 23, 2012)

Boal said, “That’s dynamite!” With equal elation, Bigelow chimed in with “That’s incredible.”

Boal was also welcomed at CIA headquarters where he was allowed access to a mock-up of bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound. Boal was even invited to a CIA ceremony honoring the Seals involved.  (New York Times, Aug. 6, 2011)

And Boal met with two members of the staff of the National Security Council: Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Adviser on Counterterrorism John Brennan. But an e-mail from Marie Harf of the CIA revealed that the Agency was trying to keep Boal’s visits to Langley quiet. (Politico, May 23, 2012)

This privileged access to secret information is troubling. As many have noted, it is ironic that Boal should be allowed this access by the same administration that has made a habit of threatening with indictments anyone who divulges national security secrets.

The Movie Version

Zero Dark Thirty is a long movie, running for two hours and 37 minutes, with the raid on bin Laden’s compound the penultimate scene taking up about the last 20 minutes of the picture, along with a kind of coda at the end in which the main character, a female CIA analyst on the bin Laden team, identifies the body and is then flown out of Afghanistan.

So, the much longer part of the film involves the tracing of where bin Laden is hiding and convincing the CIA Director and the White House that this intelligence is correct. Yet, one of the problems with the film is that it’s a straight detective film. And since we know how it will end, there is virtually no suspense or surprise along the way. The little that there is comes from the actual intricacy of how bin Laden was tracked down. But these are simply little bits of human-interest angles.

For instance, a well-off Arab living in Kuwait is bribed for information by the CIA. The bribe consists of buying him a brand new Lamborghini late one night. The CIA agent makes a car dealer open after hours so his informant can pick the model he wants. In another segment, Maya, the female lead character, has to talk a phone-intercept specialist who is short of men and resources into tracing a suspect’s cell phone so she can know where he is. A cohort of hers helps her win the technician over and she ends up being able to monitor the man.

But besides these sidelights, the story as it unfolds is pretty much straightforward and linear. In that sense, it’s pretty much a police story.  Except that, in this instance, the police are allowed to use questionable ends to justify the result, bringing us to the most controversial aspect of the film – its depiction of torture.

And although the film’s defenders – mostly the movie reviewers who have praised the film – have tried to smudge this point, there is little sense in denying it. As Greg Mitchell wrote in The Nation on Dec. 12, the film undoubtedly shows that torture played a key role in tracing bin Laden to his compound.

Toward the end, the supervisor of the torturing admits at a meeting with the CIA Director that the key information in the manhunt came from a detainee. The viewer should recall that in the beginning of the film it was this man who was being tortured at a CIA black site and who was the first one to give the CIA a lead on bin Laden’s courier, who Maya eventually tracks down.

And as Mitchell adds, “While some of those defending the film have claimed that it shows that torture does not work, or is counterproductive, you don’t really see that on the screen.” He then adds, commenting on these film reviewers, “From their comments, I expected at least a brief scene where one of the CIA types admits this. No such luck.”

Mitchell’s comment is accurate. In fact, it is hard not to conclude that the filmmakers endorse these “enhanced interrogation techniques” as justified by controversial law professor John Yoo. I would go as far as to say that Dick Cheney would like this film’s attitude toward the subject.

In one clip, Sen. Obama, then a candidate for President, is seen declaring his opposition to the process. One of the CIA agents involved in the manhunt shakes her head in disapproval. Near the end, exposés of the techniques used at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are mentioned, but are presented as bad since now detainees all have lawyers. The chief torturer (played by Jason Clarke) says early on to one of his subjects, “Everybody breaks. It’s simple biology.”

Maya is at first seen to be squeamish about the water-boarding of a subject. But as the film goes on, she becomes a hard-bitten professional about the task. The subliminal message being that, if a slightly built young woman can learn to like it, anyone can.

As the reviewer for The Nation, Stuart Klawans wrote, “As for the torture … the movie revels in it. … Arguments that the film exposes torture as abhorrent are absurd. The movie juices the audience on … these physical confrontations.” (To this author, this might be slightly overstated, but only slightly.)

Klawans then went on to address the other issue: “Does the film present torture as the necessary tool for taking down bin Laden? Absolutely.” After agreeing with Mitchell about the subject being tortured at the beginning being the source for the name of the courier, Klawans concludes that although Bigelow and Boal have denied giving “the audience the impression that the use of torture was integral” to the goal, he finds this disingenuous on their part.

Tolerating Torture

There are at least two serious problems that Boal and Bigleow should have understood by making this type of presentation about this controversial issue. First, the opinions on these techniques inside the government were not nearly as unanimous as the film denotes.

As Jane Mayer has written, the program “was deemed so illegal, and so immoral, that the Director of the FBI withdrew his personnel rather than have them collaborate with it.” But further, even the top lawyer at the Pentagon resisted it so that it would not spread throughout the armed forces. (Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 12/14/2012)

As Mayer notes, this important debate, which reached the highest levels of government, is simply not echoed in the film. Bigelow has responded that “The film does not have an agenda, and it doesn’t judge.” (ibid) But by not showing the other side of the story, while saying that torture helped nail bin Laden, she is expressing a point of view, since her film does not reflect the true circumstances of the situation. Boal was even worse on this point. He actually said the film showed the complexity of the debate over the issue. It does not.

But further, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin of, respectively the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Armed Service Committee, have written that, “The original lead information had no connection to CIA detainees.” They added that a detainee in CIA custody did provide information on the courier but that “he did so the day before he was interrogated by the CIA using their coercive interrogation techniques.” (ibid)

It’s almost as if Boal and Bigelow took the line they did because they became enamored by the access the CIA had given them. Was this part of a quid pro quo arrangement or were they simply the latest “embedded” media personalities to be seduced by the surrounding culture?

One has to pose that question because their depiction is so one-sided. For instance, unlike what Clarke says in the film, everyone does not break in the end. As Mayer wrote, many prisoners were tortured to death while never revealing secrets. And many others simply created disinformation stories to avoid further duress. And some of that disinformation managed to lead America into the war in Iraq.

But perhaps the worst of all, in the ends-justifies-the-means ethos of the film, this question is never asked: What about those who were swept up by the CIA and sent to a black site yet were totally innocent? There were many of these innocent victims. Mayer mentions one: Khaled El-Masri, who was kidnapped and held in detention for four months. He was beaten up, sodomized, chained and hooded. He could barely speak about the experience without weeping.

As hinted at above, many of the early reviewers were very impressed by the dexterous way the film was made. They therefore ignored this key issue, which seems to me to be an important one. But there are other issues in the story besides this one that seem to me to be important, too. Yet the commentators I have read have not dealt with them at all.

First, when the story about the raid first broke, the message conveyed by official spokesmen was that it was a “kill or capture” operation. As time has gone on, this fig leaf has fallen by the wayside. The film does not cavil about the mission’s intent: It was a kill operation all the way.

And keeping with the CIA’s single-mindedness, there is never any question as to whether or not killing bin Laden was the wisest thing to do. I posed that question to longtime CIA intelligence analyst Ray McGovern: “Why was he murdered? Would it not have been more productive to capture and interrogate him?”

McGovern replied that he had always felt bin Laden would have been more valuable alive than dead, but McGovern said that as time has gone on in this battle against terrorists, the ethos has changed. “It would have been a tough decision as to what to do with him if he were taken alive,” he said.

McGovern added, “There are grounds for suspicion that he was murdered because he knew too much … not just about past U. S. support for him, but relative to 9/11 itself.”

Simplistic Account

Again, these two points are of the utmost interest to this subject. In Adam Curtis’s excellent documentary, The Power of Nightmares, these questions are addressed. And therefore al-Qaeda and bin Laden come off in a much fuller and detailed way than the ciphers they are in this film. Curtis’s film is much more complex and compelling than this new docu-drama – even though it’s a documentary and could not use the narrative techniques of a feature film.

And beyond that, the Curtis film is much more provocative than this one. In the Curtis film, one comes away feeling empowered since the viewer now knows something more about how al-Qaeda and bin Laden began and how those origins were intertwined with the CIA’s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

This “blowback” factor, well elucidated by Curtis, is completely missing in this simplistic film, Zero Dark Thirty. And it tells us much about the distribution of films in America today, and our growing propagandistic culture, that the Bigelow film is playing in first-run theaters with a large ad campaign behind it, while the Curtis film – which was made eight years ago – has yet to find a TV or film distributor in this country.

McGovern’s second point is also ignored in the film. Namely, was bin Laden the main force and sole originator of the 9-11 attacks? One would certainly get that message from this film. But again, when I asked McGovern about this issue he replied with something less than complete certainty. He first said that, by admission of almost everyone, including its co-chairs, the 9/11 Commission was “woefully inadequate.”

But to me, there may be something even more egregiously wrong with this much-ballyhooed film. It leaves out the fuller history of the pursuit for bin Laden, which began at least five years before the 9/11 attacks. (Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower, p. 3) At its inception, the investigation was part of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and it had a nondescriptive name, “but in practice it was devoted to tracking the activities of a single man, Osama bin Laden.”

As early as 1993, he had been fingered as an important financier of terror. In 1996, Daniel Coleman of the FBI was sent to a CIA station in Tysons Corner, Virginia, to review the information the Agency had on bin Laden. He was surprised to find out that they had already built a library of 35 volumes of material on the man. (ibid) On the strength of this file, plus the fatwa (declaration of war) issued by bin Laden that year, Coleman opened a criminal case on him. (ibid, p. 5)

Later in 1996, Coleman met at a safehouse with a Sudanese informer named Jamal al-Fadl. This man claimed to have worked with bin Laden in Khartoum. When shown photos of his associates, Fadl identified most of them. Coleman later found out that Fadl was hiding the fact that he was in America because he had embezzled $100,000 from bin Laden. (ibid) But beyond that, Fadl informed Coleman about an organization called al-Qaeda, which was operating training camps and sleeper cells and was already quite active, having trained operatives who had performed a bombing in Yemen in 1992 and tutored the insurgents who had downed helicopters in Somalia that year. (ibid)

Fadl went further. He gave Coleman names of the members and drew up their organizational charts. For two weeks, Coleman tested Fadl to see if he could cross him up. The informant never varied his responses. On his own Coleman built up his knowledge of the group, concluding that al-Qaeda was a worldwide network stretching across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Central Asia. He was especially worried to find out that many of its associates had ties to the U.S. He then concluded that one of its targets was America.

But Coleman’s problem was the same as faced by White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke: Almost no one in power took the threat seriously, especially after George W. Bush entered the White House in 2001. Even though Coleman’s information grew more refined and precise, the subject was too exotic and bizarre for many other officials to focus on.

Wright’s book, which was published in 2006, changes the portrait of the manhunt drawn in the film, which leads viewers to believe that the search began after 9/11 and made its first breakthrough with the torture of bin Laden’s followers.

By framing their movie as they do – as simply a manhunt for a madman – Bigelow and Boal make their film reductive of its materials, failing to address the complex history and the many enduring questions. The shamefully ebullient early reviewers were happy with that, praising the film as taut and “riveting” and “pulse-pounding” displaying what Bigelow likes to call her “boots on the ground” experience.

There is no doubt that the cinematography and editing of the film are well done. But there is nothing really exceptional about the making of this film. Any number of directors — Jonathan Demme, Ed Zwick and many others — could have done just as well.

And Bigelow really blew it in the casting of Jessica Chastain as Maya. Bigelow has never really been all that interested in acting. (She came to film directing out of painting and therefore is more interested in the visual aspect.) To be kind, Chastain is simply not up to this role. She is an actress who can only deliver the primary colors with little in the way of subtlety and resourcefulness.

If you can imagine what a young Vanessa Redgrave could have done with Maya — in voice inflection, in pattern of facial inquiry and response, in body carriage — you can see how inadequate Chastain really is. But a director who truly understood the demands of the part would not have settled for Chastain in the first place.

Because of all these limitations, all these shortcomings, the film has no overtones, not even any reverberations. When it’s over, it’s over. And that is really bad considering the enormity of the subject.

To make one apt comparison: Oliver Stone’s JFK was not simply about whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy. It posed an array of other questions about the event:  Was the Warren Commission really looking for the truth at all? Did the FBI actually investigate the case? Was Jim Garrison’s office wired and infiltrated to prevent him from discovering the real facts about the case? Was President Kennedy killed because he was effecting a withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam?

But Stone didn’t ask for help from Washington in making his movie. And he was interested in a lot more than just if Oswald was guilty. Thus, JFK was a much richer and thought-provoking film than Zero Dark Thirty.

When a film shrinks its canvas instead of enlarging it, it’s a good sign that the ambition is simply to chronicle. That is what this film does. And it delivers that chronicling from a dubious and expurgated point of view.

Jim DiEugenio is a researcher and writer on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and other mysteries of that era. His new book is Destiny Betrayed (Second Edition) from Skyhorse Publishing.

Share this Article:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • NewsVine
  • Technorati
  • email

20 comments on “An Incurious ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

  1. elmerfudzie on said:

    The book and movie outlines are total rubbish without an ounce of truth in them. I’ve stated this before and and I’ll say it again because it DOES bear repeating; Osama Bin Laden died over twelve years ago. The raid was a staged event performed by US intel and only their field operatives could reveal the true reasons behind this fiction. Historically speaking and as proof of death, Che Guevara’s hands were cut off and sent to, Castro, photos of his unmutilated corpse went on international display. Mussolini’s lifeless body dangled from a open street square for all to see and an autopsy on the body of Lee Harvey Oswald was seamless in procedure, went undisputed and performed in one place. On the other hand, JFK’s autopsy caused quite a stir, a mistake our Intel would never permit to happen again. To date, the usual eye witness rub-outs have begun to take place, such as the helo crash that killed some of the special op’s team members involved in that “Bin Laden compound” raid. No body, no DNA tests (chain of custody by the SEALS lacks all credibility), no autopsy, no interrogation, no burial press coverage, no uncontestable photo’s but above all, absolutely NO truth. I can only guess that our government so feared the accidental appearance of the Paparazzi, that this latest conspiracy was staged in a third world country and adjacent to a highly restricted military zone. This fairytale is probably an inspiration conjured by Obama himself, intended to get a leg up for re-election. He certainly couldn’t earn a second term based on those endlessly contradictory statements and policies!

  2. Abderrahman Ulfat on said:

    9/11 was enacted to demonize Muslims and denegrade Islam. If one accepts what is conveyed through this movie, it is adding insult to injury so far as Muslims are concerned. The vital molten iron from 9/11 was sold to China, and OBL was buried in the ocean, does one need more proooooof that the evidence is being burried? But the Military Industrial Zionist Neocon complex ends up being a moron at the end. 9/11 is the most potent mystery that will occupy American curiosity for a long long time. The process will unfold forces that will undo the stanglehold of the dark forces on America.

  3. The absence of any proof of bin Laden’s alleged death at the hands of the Navy Seals also matches the lack of evidence tying Al Qaeda to the 9/11 attacks. Both Colin Powell and Tony Blair promised reports detailing the specific points of AQ complicity, and both failed to produce anything. The entire War On Terror enterprise has been based on assertion.

    • Must agree the bombing of the caves at Tora Bora did in UBL. War Profiteers cannot profit without endless war.

  4. a wash job at best but as the other comments say, this is all we’ll ever get from the CIA, murkey murkey murkey

  5. Just another example of the CIA “crime family” tying up all the loose ends. OBL was their guy until he outlived his usefulness. Sadaam was their guy until he outlived his usefulness. Dead men tell no tales and if the real truth about 9-11 ever came out if the real truth about the 1st Gulf War, our involvement in the terror in Latin America during the Reagan/Bush years, the American people would be more ashamed than angry about the atrocities committed in our name.

  6. you are all conspiracy theorists who want to believe what your minds tell you. men from a third world country compromised the US security and breached our airlines, only to commit an awful, gut wrenching act on our humanity. it was not the government of America who created 911 and Osama Bin Laden being rolled up on in the middle of the night in 02′ george bush is a complete retard.

  7. fred mrozek on said:

    This review is a perfect example of why Jim is far-and-away my favorite JFK researcher. By the way, here is a link to a review of the movie by Steve Pieczenik: http://vimeo.com/55673270

  8. James DiEugenio on said:

    Thanks Fred. The film was a real disappointment.

    It came out flat to me.

    The Power of Nightmares is much better. Have you seen it?

  9. Still missing the story, nearly completely.

    The Real “Maya”

    More

    You mention Richard Clarke, without a clue that he has come out and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bl6w1YaZdf8#t=0s"<accused "fifty 5-0" CIA personnel of hiding the San Diego hijacker cell from him, for 16 months prior to 9/11. Your preordained assumption that “Almost no one in power took the threat seriously” is spoon-fed propaganda. So much for research and in-depth investigation.

  10. James DiEugenio on said:

    Please show me where you can find another review as complete and detailed as this one showing just how poor and one sided the film is?

    But apparently that is not good enough for you.

    In your zeal to smear me, you never asked if I had been aware of the Blee film and the Clarke interview. By not asking me you can then go ahead and dump on me. That is fair and accurate isn’t it?

    To me, the biggest lie in the film is the implication that the Hunt Bin Laden unit was created after 9-11. Boal and Bigelow had to know better. Plus the first opportunity to kill or capture Bin Laden at Tora Bora was blown by the Wh and CIA. That fact is given the shortest mention in the film, really just a blip. This is why I think its a CIA apologia film. And why the liberal press, like Mayer and MItchell, don’t realize how propagandistic the film really is.

  11. Mark A. O'Blazney on said:

    That’s ‘Meyer’ and Mitchell, Mr. DiEugenio. For more wise words just………… summonthemagic. Hey, why don’t you just call her “Pinch” ? Particular people do. And wise men still seek her. Thank you for continuing YOUR search, sir. How about Oliver? What’s he got to say about all this, ifyouplease, Pease?

    • James DiEugenio on said:

      Don’t know.

      Someone should send him the review.

      I don’t think Oliver would like cooperating with the CIA that much.

  12. Jon Shafer on said:

    Interesting movie review, and particularly the comments following. This is to question no one’s integrity here, but I do seriously question the integrity of our own government. I posted the following on Dec 1 on Facebook and other venues:

    MORE DAMNING EVIDENCE of the BIN LADEN FABLE….

    A recent report obtained by the Associated Press should tell us to be very wary of the highly-publicized Navy Seals operation to assassinate bin Laden.

    Let me make this clear. as ex-Navy myself in service ending during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the Seals do their jobs and do it admirably. And I’m also painfully aware of the loyalties of supporters of President Obama who I supported, but did so because the alternative was far worse. I still have huge misgivings of the direction of American foreign policy and perpetual war. Why Mr. Obama has continued the policies Bush imposed following 9/11 has been deeply troubling to me. And I can’t turn my head and look the other way.

    The Associated Press had filed a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Defense, and what they got was very heavily redacted, blacked-out pieces of information about the Seals operation. The substance of it further confirms many earlier reports I have received over recent years.

    A MASSIVE FABRICATION AND COVER-UP BY OUR GOVERNMENT ?

    The information obtained by the AP includes: 1) The emails obtained by the Associated Press through FOIA were heavily redacted and blacked out. NO U.S. sailors saw ANY of the burial at sea. 2) The Pentagon also said it could NOT find any death certificate, autopsy report or DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden’s body if he were killed. 3) The Department of Defense said in March that it could not locate any videos or photographs taken during the raid or showing bin Laden’s body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden’s body on the Vinson. 4) The Defense Department also refused to confirm or deny the existence of helicopter maintenance logs or reports about the performance of military gear used in the raid.

    And, in particular, this further notation obtained by AP: The CIA, which ran the bin Laden raid and has special legal authority to keep information from ever being made public, has not responded to AP’s request for records about the mission.

    From EVER BEING MADE PUBLIC? WHY??

    On the basis of many prior reports this, clearly, was totally a CIA operation, and in this case I believe, sadly, that the Navy and its personnel, including the Seals, were “used” to gun down an unarmed, aging, and unproven bin Laden. And in light of the new movie out about the raid, “Zero Dark Thirty,” I begin to seriously wonder to what extent will we continue to glorify what appears to be a propagandized and mythical portrayal that deliberately masks the truth?

    My take on this from various reports I have had since around 2004 on: Bin Laden had been long dead, long before the alleged Navy Seals operation. There are many earlier reports of bin Laden’s death, including a former Cheney staffer who said bin Laden died in 2003 or before. Bin Laden was reported near death at an American hospital in Dubai in the summer of 2001. He was on dialysis. And other reports of his funeral, and his death reported in late 2001.

    WHOEVER THE SEALS SHOT, IT WASN’T BIN LADEN.

    There are many anomalies to this whole charade. The Washington Post, for example, reported bin Laden eschewed “modern” conveniences, including electricity. A report some time ago from Global Research said there was NO electricity in the alleged compound. So how did our government release a photo of an alleged bin Laden sitting in front of a TV screen — without electricity? Unless, of course, this was all part of the “staging” of this event by CIA operatives and others. In fact, another report suggests the CIA presence there was to plant “evidence” that would be “found” later.

    Further, that photo showed an alleged bin Laden sitting in front of the TV holding a remote in his right hand. FBI files clearly state bin Laden was LEFT handed. Nor could any connection be made to 9/11. Just a convenient bogey-man to help fuel America’s wars. The man could not have survived without dialysis equipment, NONE of which was reported to have been found at the alleged compound.

    The lies and corruption at the highest levels inside our government just get deeper and deeper, hidden and cloaked under so many phony claims of “national security.”

    And further, from the AP report which noted: Although the Obama Administration had pledged to be the most transparent in history, it is keeping tight hold on materials related to the bin Laden raid.

    Many of my friends are strong Obama supporters. And I know the direction this post takes has to be unsettling. It is to me, too. Many times I have discussed on Black Singles with friends concerning just how much authority a president of the United States has. And to what extent a president is really but a “captive audience” of military and intelligence advisers who mislead and distort to gain presidential authorization for actions contrary to what a president, or the public, might otherwise, in his/her own mind, see differently? Many go so far as to suggest the president is, at best, a “figurehead” used by much more powerful interests, “interests” for example that resulted in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy for standing up to and preventing CIA and military plans for a false flag operation tied to the Cuban missile crisis. That’s right, false flags. Governments have used them throughout history to distort perceptions of reality in order to obtain powers not ordinarily consented to.

    Clearly, the CIA is not any more what it was originally created to do. It is seen by many as an almost “parallel government” often operating at odds with the democratic institutions we are taught of what America is, and has “agendas” operating far beneath public awareness that would make us shudder in disbelief.

    Eventually, the light of truth will expose the lies and deceptions of the CIA/military industrial complex that runs America that President Eisenhower warned us about more than 50 years ago in his farewell address as the new president-elect, John Kennedy, was preparing for inauguration day..

    As I see it, we are living in an illusory reality as America’s wages illegal wars, tramples on the Constitution and throws out due process and rule of law, and washes traditional freedoms down that dark drain of false flags, the fraud called the “war on terror,” and the corruption, our Orwellian “police state” transformation, economic collapse, murder, destruction, perpetual wars and the likely high treason that brought it all about.

    With kind regards,
    Jon Shafer
    Stockton, CA

  13. James DiEugenio on said:

    Let me address a couple of issues.

    WHen I review a movie that has a political basis to it, I try and stick to the subject matter at hand. In Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” I tired to stick to the depiction of Hoover’s character and career in the film.

    The Bigelow-Boal film is about the intel community’s hunt for Bin Laden. That is the subject of this film. Its not about the actual attacks of 9-11. Those are not even shown in the film. What is shown at length is the search for BIn Laden. It is pertinent I think to reveal to the reader that this search DID NOT begin right after 9/11. It is pertinent I think in that regard to mention the failure at Tora Bora.These impact directly on what is shown in the film. It is pertinent to quote Coleman’s experience at FBI–since in the late nineties, he was one of their top experts on the case. And he told Lawrence Wright he could not get his bosses to listen to him enough.

    It is pertinent to say that Clarke said the same in regards to the Bush administration. He could not get a deputy’s meeting until September 4th. Tenet said pretty much the same thing about RIce and Cheney and Bush and Rumsfeld. This all relates to the film’s subject, what we see up there. Because it all relates to whether or not BIn Laden could have been caught sooner.There is no doubt he could and should have been caught at Tora Bora–just a bit more than 3 months after the attacks.

    But these other things, these are not about what the film depicts: Richard Blee, and a documentary that has not even been released yet, the idea that the whole mission was some kind of hoax/playlet to somehow deceive everyone –about what?

    A critic can only deal with what a film depicts, that is the story and the way that story is produced. That is what I did and that is what I try to do. To diverge into angles not really addressed in the film is simply not fair to the film makers, the film, or people who are really interested in what the hub bub is all about. To me, when a critic does that, he brings an agenda to the job and is not really a critic anymore. But a political polemicist.

    There is a time and place for that, but its not in any critique about what we see in Zero Dark Thirty.

  14. “In your zeal to smear me, you never asked if I had been aware of the Blee film and the Clarke interview. By not asking me you can then go ahead and dump on me. That is fair and accurate isn’t it?”

    I wasn’t aware this was a Q&A, until now.

    I took issue with your assessment and claims that the Bush regime was oblivious to the impending attacks, when in fact they monkey-wrenched the nation’s defenses and actively blocked investigations that could have stopped it. The CIA’s complicity in this treason is clear. Your claims bolster the idea that it was somehow incompetence to blame for hundreds of different coincidences and covered-up connections (to the Saudis and the Pakistanis) that all helped the 9/11 hijackers succeed. Those incompetent fools, blundering their way to a global military empire in control of the world’s petroleum resources. God, they’re so dumb.

    “To me, the biggest lie in the film is the implication that the Hunt Bin Laden unit was created after 9-11. Boal and Bigelow had to know better. Plus the first opportunity to kill or capture Bin Laden at Tora Bora was blown by the Wh and CIA. That fact is given the shortest mention in the film, really just a blip. This is why I think its a CIA apologia film. And why the liberal press, like Mayer and MItchell, don’t realize how propagandistic the film really is.”

    The CIA’s relationship with Bin Laden and his terrorist network most certainly began well before 9/11. If you’re going to tackle an issue, you start at the beginning.

    Anyway, Mr. Bin Laden wasn’t always so disliked by Washington DC.

    Osamagate
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO110A.html

    More:

    When asked why there was no mention of the 9/11 attacks on Osama Bin Laden’s FBI’s Most Wanted web page [FBI Spokesman Rex Tomb] said, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”

    Osama bin Laden fought on the same side as the United States in several conflicts including Afghanistan in the 1980’s, Kosovo and Bosnia in the 1990’s. Reports indicated cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency.

    The Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) served as the go-between for the US intelligence and the bin Laden network tracing back to the 1980’s. As bin Laden is alleged to have taken refuge in Pakistan, half a mile from the Pakistani military academy, what was the role of Pakistan’s ISI in protecting him, and who in the US intelligence community knew of this? Bonus financial subplot – why are we still giving Pakistan billions of our tax dollars and who is trying to stop it?

    Bin Laden, a prominent Saudi national, maintained ties to Saudi Arabia as well, and the Saudi government was repeatedly implicated in the September 11th attacks, although never prosecuted for an act of war. What is the relationship between the Saudi royals, the bin Laden network and those in the United States who would cover up these connections?

    Was bin Laden given the green light to be airlifted out of Kunduz Afghanistan in November of 2001, at a time when the US Air Force could easily have shot down any escaping aircraft?

    Was Osama bin Laden admitted to a Rawalpindi, Pakistan military hospital for treatment on September 10th, 2001, as reported by CBS?

    Was Osama bin Laden treated at a United States military hospital in Dubai, UAE, in July of 2001, as reported by French intelligence in Le Figaro?

    There’s quite a bit more.

  15. Hollywood was tasked by their “Tribal” handlers to continue to perpetuate the myth about Bin Laden. Even though we now know he was on the payroll of the CIA right up until 9/11, was killed in Tora Bora in Dec 2001, and had NOTHING to do with 9/11. When this propaganda finally blows up in their faces, and it will, it won’t be pretty and each new lie makes it worse.

    They think they can somehow, someway, lie their way out of it. WRONG.

  16. In addition to this attempt to “shape” the public’s perception of what truly happened we also have Jesse Ventura’s latest expose on Brain Wave Propagation, Mind-Control and its current use in the U.S.A.

    What are the government GWEN towers being refitted to accomplish, through mind altering waves. They have been committing the most UN-constitutional acts against American citizens imaginable. Is there anything they won’t try to stay in power? The propaganda film, was just one aspect of a much bigger plan.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=18PtOXrzDVE

  17. Otto Schiff on said:

    In my opinion killing should be used for self defense.
    Ben Laden was killed and buried at sea. He could have been captured
    and put on trial. The USA has become a killing machine. We arm despots in Latin America
    We are constantly at war. We hold prisoners for years without charging or trying them in Guantanamo Lets get back to a country of laws.