Share “Rich Lowry: Washington vs. 'Zero Dark Thirty'”

Rich Lowry: Washington vs. 'Zero Dark Thirty'

BY RICH LOWRY Published: January 30, 2013
Advertisement

Bigelow upset the senators and other purveyors of polite opinion by trampling on Washington pieties about interrogation. “Zero Dark Thirty” depicts detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation as providing information — sometimes through their deceptions — that helped the CIA zero in on the man acting as bin Laden's courier.

Boal told Time magazine: “If the general impression you get from this movie is that torture played a role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, that's because that's true. That's a fact. It doesn't mean they had to torture people or that torture is necessary or torture is morally right.”

Brutal business

As his comment suggests, the movie is hardly an advertisement for harsh interrogation. It depicts the CIA program as more frankly violent and uncontrolled than it was, confusing it with the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Detainees weren't beaten up. Interrogators didn't waterboard them on the spot for unsatisfactory answers. Even if in reality the CIA program was more antiseptic and bureaucratic than depicted, the movie leaves no doubt that breaking a man is a brutal business.

That's not enough for the amateur film critics of the world's greatest deliberative body, though. They want to believe that we could have waged a shadowy war against terrorist operatives in the deadly urgent circumstances immediately after Sept. 11 without ever making difficult moral choices. For whatever reason, they are fine with flying trained killers to a compound in Pakistan in the dead of night to shoot the place up and bring bin Laden back in a sack. But they can't bear the thought that any of bin Laden's associates suffered coercive interrogations.

In this case — in perhaps a first — it is Hollywood that has the greater appreciation for complexity and moral realism.

KING FEATURES SYNDICATE