Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thoughts on Zero Dark Thirty

We saw Zero Dark Thirty earlier today in Los Angeles. All the reviews you have read are probably accurate, but here’s some questions raised by the movie.

Did Maya, based on Jen, really exist in the CIA? Did it take that tenacious, myopic, obsessive woman to find and then connect the dots leading to Abbottabad?

Who is Maya?

The question four decades ago was “Who is Deep Throat?” A single person? A composite? Or a make believe journalistic fiction?

The same questions are raised about the movie’s Maya, who may be “Jen,” according to Mark Bissonnette.

Was the real Maya/Jen denied a promotion, as reported by the Washington Post?

Were the torture scenes accurate? Was torture effective? Senator John McCain is understandably upset about the use, or misuse, of torture. He and others call the scenes wrong.


The nearest comparison to Zero Dark Thirty is the famous, graphic black and white 1966 movie “The Battle of Algiers.” Both movies deeply explore the dark side of counterterrorism. They are not for the squeamish.

The French Army and Algerian guerrillas (FLN) engaged in a ruthless no-holds battle for the future of Algeria: Independence or colony? Both sides perpetrated massacres, summary executions, and a host of atrocities.

French paratroopers resorted to the wide spread use of torture to break the FLN’s revolt in the Casbah.

The French Army won the Battle of Algiers in 1957, but lost the war.

Are the details of the raid on the compound an accurate depiction?

How much did Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, and their team learn in their extensive briefings by the Pentagon?

Was Pakistan, or some elements of the Pakistan military, complicit in the raid?

The United States military possesses incredible means of electronic warfare, including blocking electronic transmissions and radar, but I find it inconceivable that the Pakistani military was so incompetent as to be unable to respond to a military attack 4/5 of a mile from a major base.

History, not the instant history and disinformation provided shortly after the raid, will provide us the answers. History takes time though. Mark Felt was not revealed as Deep Throat until 33 years later.

Is it ironic that Osama Bin-Laden was killed on May1, known as Law Day, in the United States?

Why was a movie highlighting Maya released two days before the anticipated Mayan Calendar apocalypse?

On a separate note, how is it that Hollywood in the past two months has released three great historical movies, ARGO, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty? We know the outcome in all three, but are spellbound throughout by the best of Hollywood.

Have ARGO and Zero Dark Thirty resurrected the image of the CIA?

Did Henry Ford actually say “History is bunk?”

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