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View Diary: Michael Moore Speaks Out on Zero Dark Thirty (85 comments)

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  •  This piece is an (11+ / 0-)

    embarrassment for Moore; I explain his most egregious error below, one that has veteran interrogators I work with laughing.

    But I want to touch on his bizarre takeaway that torture was shown to be ineffective. On two occasions in the film the threat of torture induces victims to immediately cough up info. One of them says, absurdly:

    "I do not wish to be tortured again. Ask me a question and I will answer it.'

    Probably the single worst line of dialogue in a movie this year.

    Moore explains away one of these instances by saying the CIA had that info from another source, but the fact is, torture (the threat of it) quickly extracted info; that's now how it happened, quite the contrary.

    Moreover, is you're going to make torture such a major part of your film; you should include a fuller picture of it: the time that high-value detainees stopped talking once the water-boarding began; the considerable opposition to the "EI" program withing the government, and how the hunt was hindered when torture victims provided inaccurate info. None of that was in the film.

    •  I agree with Moore (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, Jon Says

      that once you engage in the argument over whether or not torture "works," you've lost the argument.

      As he says, castrating a pedophile would "work" too. But we don't do it.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by NLinStPaul on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 01:05:42 PM PST

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      •  Nah (4+ / 0-)

        In fact, momentum started to turn against torture in 2005-2006 largely because military officers entered the debate, basing their argument on national security. (Granted, Abu Graib also had an impact.) You'll notice that when President Obama signed his executive order banning torture, the people standing behind him weren't conventional anti-torture activists or clergy but generals and admirals.

        Time and again, on human rights questions, public opinion hinges on people's perceptions of their self-interest. We might like to think that the moral argument and moral argument alone can do the trick, but that's a fantasy.

        On torture, we're right about its inefficacy. We shouldn't shy away from it. On the contrary, if we do, the torture lobby has an opening to claim with impunity that torture keeps us safe.

        •  I wouldn't shy away (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama

          from its inefficacy. Truth is - its a crap shoot whether you get good intel or not.

          The point is that even if it DID work - its still wrong.

          So the ultimate argument is a moral one.

          Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by NLinStPaul on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 01:16:26 PM PST

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          •  Of course (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Meteor Blades, BradyB, Agathena
            The point is that even if it DID work - its still wrong.
            My point is a political one. Moore's think it's unwise for us to engage in that debate; I think he's dead wrong.

            This is, in fact, an old argument among torture opponents.

            •  Of course its an old argument. (0+ / 0-)

              I'm very well acquainted with that.

              The fact that its an old argument among torture opponents means that there are thoughtful people on both sides.

              My position would be that - when push comes to shove - I stand on the ground where there are zero openings to lose the debate...the moral argument.

              Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by NLinStPaul on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 07:20:33 PM PST

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            •  Oh, and by the way... (0+ / 0-)

              the efficacy argument is based on the notion that the end goal of torture is to extract useful intelligence. Historically that hasn't always been the goal of those who torture. There's a lot of evidence that it has also been used as a tool of oppression and as a means for extracting propaganda. Torture has actually pretty effective in accomplishing that.

              Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by NLinStPaul on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 07:24:44 PM PST

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    •  Jennifer A Epps makes the points... (3+ / 0-)

      ...in your final paragraph and more in her excellent critique published here this week and highlighted two days later in Night Owls.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 01:54:28 PM PST

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    •  I think you need to rewatch the film. Where the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NLinStPaul

      person who was tortured during the first 30 minutes of the film speaks, it's not because of threat of torture again.  It's because they lie to him and tell him the attack failed.

      He specifically did NOT talk during any of his torture experiences.  Waterboarding, being tied up, humiliated in front of a woman, stuffed in a box ... he would not talk.

      I disagree that torture is any "major" part of the film, too.  It is less than 20% of the film.

      "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

      by mumtaznepal on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 02:38:18 PM PST

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    •  Right if water boarding is so effective (0+ / 0-)

      why was it necessary to use it 266 times on 2 suspects?

      ❧To thine ownself be true

      by Agathena on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:42:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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