*Earlier this year, conservatives just knew that the film “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, would be full of pro-Obama propaganda that would somehow sway the presidential election if released before Election Day. More controversy followed the revelation that the film’s writer Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow were given special briefings on the interrogation techniques directly from the CIA.
Now that critics have actually seen the film, due in theaters Dec. 19, the reality is that President Obama appears just once in the 2 hour, 37 minute thriller, and ironically, the Commander in Chief’s words in the film are already being used to mock his administration’s “no torture” policy, suggesting it is unrealistic and out of touch.
The president only appears in the movie as part of a 2008 “60 Minutes” clip in which he criticizes the use of “enhanced interrogation” on terror suspects. However, the clip comes after the audience has already watched an al Qaeda detainee give up vital information about bin Laden as the direct result of being tortured during CIA questioning.
As Politico.com points out, the right is now salivating.
Christian Toto of the conservative blog Breitbart.com wrote: “After all, the media gave credit to President Barack Obama for capturing the terrorist leader even though Obama spoke out specifically against enhanced interrogation. … In theory, bin Laden would still be alive and plotting more attacks had Obama’s ‘no torture’ policy been in place.”
On Monday’s “Morning Joe,” conservative host Joe Scarborough said the film “presents a narrative that is going to make a lot of people in the mainstream media, in the Democratic Party and in the administration uncomfortable, and that is the truth that Barack Obama learned, the first briefing that he got after he won the election, and that is that the CIA program, whether you find it repugnant or not, actually was effective with [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and other people getting actionable intelligence that led to couriers, that led, eventually, years later, to the killing of Osama bin Laden.”
The torture scene takes up about 30 minutes of the film’s opening, according to CNN’s National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, who wrote, “Obama’s opposition to torture comes off as wrongheaded and prissy,” in the film.
Describing the interrogation scenes, Bergen wrote that it depicts “a bloodied al Qaeda detainee named Ammar who is strung to the ceiling with ropes; beaten; forced to wear a dog collar while crawling around attached to a leash; stripped naked in the presence of Maya (Jessica Chastain), the female CIA analyst; blasted with heavy metal music so he is deprived of sleep; forced to endure crude waterboardings; and locked into a coffin-like wooden crate.”
Below, director Kathryn Bigelow talks about including the difficult scene.