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Jan-16-2013 18:09printcomments

Academy Members Shouldn't Shun Zero Dark Thirty

These are secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to overseas black sites like those shown in the film where torture is used.

Academy awards

(SAN FRANCISCO) - Actor David Clennon, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, claims that the movie Zero Dark Thirty "promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America's so-called War on Terror."  Mr. Clennon, along with actors Ed Asner and Michael Sheen, state they will not vote for the film in any category.

The film has been nominated for best picture, Jessica Chastain for best actress in a leading role, film editing, sound editing, and Mark Boal for writing (original screenplay).

It has been well established that the U.S. during the Bush Administration and even before engaged in torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, and at so-called overseas black sites as shown in the film, and even taught enhanced interrogation techniques (a euphemism for torture) to Latin American military officers at the School of the Americas now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

And extraordinary renditions apparently continue to this day.

These are secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to overseas black sites like those shown in the film where torture is used.

The criticism of the film seems to have started with a letter that Senators Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, and John McCain wrote to Sony Pictures Entertainment calling the movie "grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden." Senator Feinstein now wants the CIA to detail its contributions to the film Zero Dark Thirty, and even wants the filmmakers to include a disclaimer indicating the film is fiction, only based on a true story.

In my opinion, Zero Dark Thirty does not advocate or excuse torture although it does show a prisoner who had been waterboarded later tricked into revealing useful information. But the CIA and the Bush Administration accepted torture as a legitimate interrogation technique and the film does depict some of these torture techniques such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation in a realistic manner. Reading about waterboarding is not as unsettling as seeing it realistically depicted on the screen. Realistically portraying torture (or slavery, or the Holocaust, or mass murder) does not necessarily equate with advocating or excusing what was portrayed.

I agree with the Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal who countered Senator Feinstein's accusation that torture worked in the manhunt for Osama bin Laden, "The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes."

_________________________________ writer Ralph E. Stone was born in Massachusetts. He is a graduate of both Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School. We are very fortunate to have this writer's talents in this troubling world; Ralph has an eye for detail that others miss. As is the case with many writers, Ralph is an American Veteran who served in war. Ralph served his nation after college as a U.S. Army officer during the Vietnam war. After Vietnam, he went on to have a career with the Federal Trade Commission as an Attorney specializing in Consumer and Antitrust Law. Over the years, Ralph has traveled extensively with his wife Judi, taking in data from all over the world, which today adds to his collective knowledge about extremely important subjects like the economy and taxation. You can send Ralph an email at this address



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Ralph E. Stone January 18, 2013 7:16 am (Pacific time)

Human torture is not only morally unacceptable – it is also a crime. Unfortunately, too many Americans believe themselves superior to other countries and thus, anything we do to protect our country's national interests, including torture, is somehow justifiable. This places us in the same company as history's infamous torturers. Waterboarding, for example, dates back to the Dark Ages. By using torture, we lose any ideological advantage we might have -- the promotion of democracy, freedom and human rights. By using torture, we become the thugs our enemies say we are.

Anonymous January 16, 2013 7:38 pm (Pacific time)

Ralph we were in at the same time, and of course considerably different leadership roles. It was SOP to undergo various types of interrogation techniques while at Ft. Bragg nd elsewhere before I went to two combat zones: Dominican Republic 1965 and Vietnam 1966-68., and water-boarding was a regular training process. In fact over 40,000 pilots since the Korean War period have been water-boarded. How many tens of thousands besides them in different military branches is anyone's guess. The fact is that in all these water-boarding incidents not one person was injured nor has there been any case reported of any psychological injuries. Certainly we all knew it was a training process, but after getting captured after several days on an E and E training process the resulting fatigue makes that training process quite intense. Getting info from enemy soldiers while in Vietnam was also an intense process. When lives are in the balance, anything goes, and we did get the info we needed. The CIA and the other heroes that deal with our enemies provide a valuable service to America. Unless you have been involved in this type of process, all you can do is offer opinions based on supposition. You are safe Ralph because men (and a few women) did very dangerous things to keep you safe. You are welcome.

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