The new movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the hunt and capture of Osama bin Laden, opened in some Bay Area theaters over the weekend. While the film has been widely praised by critics, it has come under fire for its depiction of torture and the role of “enhanced interrogation” in bin Laden’s capture.

Mark Bowden, national correspondent for The Atlantic, author of the post "'Zero Dark Thirty' Is Not Pro-Torture" and author of books including "The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden"
Glenn Greenwald, columnist for The Guardian, author of the recent column "Zero Dark Thirty: CIA Hagiography, Pernicious Propaganda," former constitutional litigator and author of books including "With Liberty and Justice for Some"

  • Jeff Falzone

    How do i listen?

  • Chemist150

    Show me the proof, not the propaganda. The seals must have had cameras on their guns/body as a record for training. If Osama was there, there would be a pre-shot to the head image. They watched the place for how long and did not have a picture? Show me the PCR, show me the dialysis machines, show me the relative with a missing kidney. Show me some proof that he still lived past late 2001/early 2002. I will not be supporting this propaganda with my attendance.

    • Frank

      Bin Laden died years ago. The “finding” of him in Pakistan was no more real than what was depicted in the movie Wag the Dog. The reasons offered for not showing us any proof of his death are tissue-thin bogosities.

      • microlith

        I see the conspiracy theorists are out in force. Just another one to put on the pile.

    • chrisnfolsom

      The images were kept away to stop the Martyr effect as explained – and I am quite happy about that. Beyond that any evidence provided could easily been rejected – PCR, how do you know it’s his, from that night? A picture of the dialysis machines would be nice… The proof of his living is that we tracked him to a house or compound with his wife there which was sending/receiving information – again, we have to believe that……Ultimately everything comes down to belief whether it’s contrails, mars faces, grassy knolls, hidden societies and such. Having been in the military and handling some secret activities and lived 45+ years I find it difficult that factions of the military are running ops under entirely false pretenses manipulated by agencies above any administration or political parties that are calling the shots.

  • Truth

    They claim Bin Laden did 9/11, despite a mountain of evidence that points to the military industrial complex and Wall Street being behind 9/11, and virtually nothing pointing to Muslim bogeymen except lies from Bush and Cheney’s cronies. Bin Laden, who met with a CIA agent at a Dubai hospital for 10 days, two months before 9/11, was a CIA employee for years and used the code name Tim Osmond. Mohammed Atta, who was a known drug dealer whose girlfriend in Florida was a stripper, was seen by multiple people on board Jack Abramoff’s gambling ship just days before 9/11.

    • microlith

      despite a mountain of evidence that points to the military industrial complex and Wall Street being behind 9/11

      A mountain that doesn’t actually exist, mind you. Cause IT’S A CONSPIRACY!

      • Frank

        You seem to be confused about the term conspiracy. Conspiracy does not imply a lack of evidence. Ask any police detective who has helped put conspirators behind bars.

        • microlith

          No, I’m mocking people who fall into the “truther,” “birther,” and, in ye olden days “grassy knoll” camps where evidence for their cause is strangely missing or extremely, painfully contrived or outright false.

          But as I said, the “mountain of evidence” that doesn’t actually exist is missing, and it’s obviously being hidden by yet another conspiracy.

  • @Devigoes4alpha

    Question for Michael and panel

    What impact does this movie have on islamist recruitment ?

    Davey from san ramon

  • campfiregirl

    Your guests are debating facts which can only be confirmed by declassifying the actual documents about the events in the movie. The public should have access to these documents.

  • $11165038

    I think Greenwald is reading way too much into this movie. Movies are, even when portraying real life events, make believe at their core. This movie is from a CIA point of view so, of course it is going to favor the CIA view. A movie is made to make money, entertain, not be a historical treatise. I don’t necessarily count on movies for factual information and I think this hand-wringing about the movie is just way over the top and perhaps sour grapes by some critics that the movie makers had access to information that they did not.

    • chrisnfolsom

      When shown to adults this may not be important as you say, but it is shown to children and people who don’t have a point of reference to compare the facts. Movies this close to reality are like rewriting history books to favor a certain point of view – facts from this movie will become part of the American (and other) public view of what happened. Even the most educated of us can get confused by facts and fiction when presented this way – so viscerally, which is the power of cinema – squandered in the US for the all mighty dollar and popular titillation.

      • $11165038

        I think I am more disturbed by the idea of children even being allowed to view this movie than whether it is historically accurate.

        • chrisnfolsom

          That is my point, although our society seems unable to monitor our media – I live in upper middle class suburbia with a heavy right leaning politics yet I get crap from my kids and other parents even when voicing objections about media being liberal, or out of control with sex, violence or just showing the top .2 percent of humanity – the only thing I get traction with is that I get sick or every show having homosexuals in them (and I am pro gay rights – generally). I, by the way, am basically liberal on many subjects, but end up being right of many card carrying repubs on many subjects basically because I think they are lazy and don’t want to monitor their children and don’t understand the technology and it’s implications and ultimately believe that “morality” is a function of God or something “innate” and not the environment and of course the answer is some where in the middle.

    • fadista

      You sound like the typical right winger “sour grapes” and “over the top.” Those are not thoughtful comments. What you’re saying is you’re satisfied with lazy filmmaking as long as it pushes your buttons or the buttons of those who get off on typical cliche bells and whistles and explosives. What a ridiculous comment. Watch some films from other countries. The US makes the most simplistic, lazy films in the world. Bigelow had an opportunity to deal with an important historical subject in the atypical way and chose not to. I won’t see the film because I don’t need to see yet more pro military, pro cia propaganda as if the entire narrative was, “here we were minding our own business & boom! boom! the terrorists struck at our freedom!” nonsense.

      • $11165038

        I like how you assume you know anything about my political leanings. Truth is I am an independent and I don’t feel the need to insult anyone’s political belief to get my point across. I mean that I don’t look to Hollywood to teach me any great truth. I don’t look to Hollywood to tell me what I need to know about the world. I don’t look to Hollywood to teach me history. Hollywood is, at its core entertainment, it is a business not a grand calling.

  • @Devigoes4alpha

    Question for Michael and panel

    What impact does this movie have on islamist recruitment ?

    Davey from san ramon

    • chrisnfolsom

      This is an interesting question as I wonder if this was shown to middle eastern “consumers” to get their reaction – and what was it?

  • @Devigoes4alpha

    I agree with the panelists, this is disturbing. CIA seems to have a torture culture. This is portrayed in the book by FBI agent Ali soufan that CIA is rife with pro torture culture.

  • Sam Badger

    It is inevitable that a movie made only a couple of years after a real historical event will at best portray a one-sided and propagandistic account of what happened. We don’t have the time available to develop a broader historical perspective to properly inform the scriptwriting of these kinds of films. Isn’t that a reason for us to wait before making such movies?

    As is, Zero Dark Thirty looks like Southpark creator’s “Team America” but without any sense of irony. I guess Jingoism is a good way to sell movie tickets, it’s just a shame that the story has to implicitly justify torture.

    • What do you mean “we don’t have the time” to develop a broader perspective?

      Anyone who wants to be informed on the history of what lead to 9/11 can easily learn about it. Information and journalist coverage on events preceding 9/11 have always been available. It’s not like the historical record is inaccessible to people.

      You don’t need “years” to be able to consider something from alternate perspectives, any thinking person can easily do that. Give people some credit, jeezus.

  • fadista

    I appreciate Glen Greenwald’s comments. I will not see the film for many of the reasons Greenwald already stated. I don’t appreciate the narrative that, “here we were, minding our own business and all of sudden we were attacked by terrorists.” That is only half the story and if it isn’t told, it’s propaganda.

    • chrisnfolsom

      It is morally repugnant that many believe we did nothing wrong, or that the terrorists are just crazy people out to get us – for no reason on our part. That does NOT mean that they are justified for 9/11 or other acts, but the first part of solving any problem is understanding the factors causing the problem – it’s much easier to cry foul and strike out unfortunately….especially when you have the might and power of the US, The entire situation is truly sad – the fact the American people would rather watch movies pushing the “glories” of the war (and America) than watching real news (not pundits on FOX), or studying the history of the situation.

      • Frank

        Except that there is no believable evidence that Muslim fundamentalists did 9/11.
        Have the courage to open your mind.

        Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth documentary:

        • chrisnfolsom

          I have watched the video and first of all – it’s a video with an agenda – they made it for one reason. I agree that you can say many things and make them look good – the truth can be twisted many ways. I cannot refute all the facts brought up – that is not my expertise or job, but that does NOT mean I have to accept it as fact. I have to use the Occam’s razor defense in that crashing planes is much easier than orchestrating timed demolitions in multiple building while having no whistle blowers at all – and still crashing planes… As with religion, I would love to believe all the conspiracies, but the more you look into either, less facts seem to back them up, and both rely on belief and seem to stem or use paranoia. I would love to believe that governments could actually pull something like that off (not that they did) as if something like that was possible then we could solve just about any problem we have – but then I remember we live in the real world.

          • Frank

            Crashing planes into buildings will NOT cause those buildings to collapse, not in a million years. That is the point. It’s 9th grade physics.

            Nor did WTC 7 collapse at free-fall speed because of planes because it was not hit by any planes, nor by significant debris, whereas WTC 5 and 6 were hit by falling debris and did not collapse.

            Occam’s Razor is the refuge of people who are too ignorant to argue from a position of understanding.

          • chrisnfolsom

            Really? So if you don’t have all the answers (and I will say you never know everything about anything…) you have to believe a conspiracy, or a religion. Just because YOU are “certain” of something using your own information does not mean that it is true. The list of government conspiracies and cover-ups is long – the proof or examples is small if any (I am sure you have a list). Without very good proof – not the absence of a good explanation – you will not make me believe in something for which I have very little faith – that the Government can conduct extremely complex covert operations on it’s own people without any leakage of facts or evidence. I guess we can argue this through over and over, but again, if the Government was capable of such things then it would be much more powerful and any mistakes it does make (many of which we see) are things that are allowed to leak out – like fake yellow cake articles vis-a-vis Chaney getting us into Iraq – among the many other leaks that have been seen and cannot be traced to covert ops, but as just mistakes that are made be people and groups.

          • microlith

            Crashing planes into buildings will NOT cause those buildings to collapse, not in a million years.

            Oh? Even when the metal’s crystalline structure starts changing due to exposure to what is essentially a blast furnace?

            It’s 9th grade physics.

            I don’t recall covering metallurgy in 9th grade.

            Occam’s Razor is the refuge of people who are too ignorant to argue from a position of understanding.

            You claim to be in a position of “understanding” but are incapable of doing more than linking to a youtube video.

          • chrisnfolsom

            Unfortunately 9th grade physics is beyond most people – especially when 50% of America believes in ghosts and such. I do believe that you believe what you say – I have not seen concrete evidence other than a video on the internet and people who believe in many other “wacko” (in my opinion) other alarmist, extremist positions. It has been shown that a good salesman can sell anything irregardless of the facts especially when using FUD(Fear Uncertainty and Doubt). I guess I am a shill for “The Man”, but I can only believe what makes sense to me and what history tells me has a remote possibility of truth.

    • James F. “Jim” Michie

      A shouted AMEN to that, fadista. Our so-called “government” continues in its state of abject denial over our arrogant, bullying foreign policy and continues to create unending ranks of so-called terrorists. We, the U.S. has practiced its own brand of terrorism through its empire-building.

  • @Devigoes4alpha

    Here is ethics for you, how about torturing mentally unstable gun buyers if they are planning to attack the homelands kids

  • Sam Badger

    Glenn Greenwald overstates his case by arguing that the US opposed torture for the past century. It was more than happy to support and participate in torture in Latin America. With the indictment of Victor Jara’s murderers, we can make it a point to remember the fact that the CIA did support torture as long as they weren’t the ones doing it.

    • Jim Mcswagsalot

      I think he would completely agree with you but he probably meant that the US’s public opinion on torture for centuries was that it was wrong. Obviously our government doesnt do what they say, but at least they used to acknowledge publicly that torture was wrong, regardless of whether they were doing.

  • FayNissenbaum

    I recall that when the reports about torture of Gitmo detainees came to light, a CIA or FBI agent said that’s “not gonna get truthful information”. Combined with torture victim John McCain’s explanation that torture victims will say anything they think the interrogator wants to hear means it doesn’t work. Also, critics have stated in rebuttal to Alan Dershowitz’s ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario -justifying torture where the bad guy has the code to defuse the hypothethical bomb – that such scenarios simply don’t exist in real life.

    So from all corners – from pro-war conservatives to government agents -torture produces bad intel and doesn’t work. Personally, I’m a fan of the fox show, 24, where Jack Bauer tortured people routinely, but when it comes to an event, due to its recent-ness and historical weight, it is obscene to fabricate the key facts. I won’t fall for the claim that Jesus’ image was found on a tortilla, but I may fall for the claim that torture cracked the Bin Laden case. When we still don’t know the truth, accuracy becomes most important. A documentary about Bin Laden would be a better film. For secret super-agents, I still have James Bond and Jack Bauer.

  • Arena Shawn

    Uplifting everything into moral absolutes, of course torture is not justifiable and is morally repugnant — but this world does not run on moral absolutes. Americans in their war abroad have always tortured captives from their enemy and that is a wide know fact in any country who has fought wars with America — and it will continue no matter anybody agree or does not agree with them, because when your friends and comrades are dying on the ground, it reaches a point that one as an individual feels they just have to do anything that is even just remotely effective. Am I agreeing with them? Certainly not. Do I feel this is dangerous? You bet. But if it is my call and I am put in their shoes? I might just do the same. The world does not run on moral absolutes — it never will be. Stating things as “never” or “always” is just not realistic.

    • disigny

      The “world” runs on whatever absolutes we embody. It is not only a question of dishonorable tactics, it is also that torture is so completely counter productive. But , of course , as sadistic, if irrelevant, Revenge, it can’t be beat, if you don’t mind turning yourself into a monster.

  • David Randolph

    The use of torture has been condemned since the Spanish Inquisition and legally banned since WWII. It has been proven to be unreliable and to put our own troops at risk. I was raised to believe that being a good American meant that we had a moral backbone. Americans who advocate for torture reveal a deep streak of moral apathy and cowardice

    • guest

      To hear the viewpoint of the Abu Ghraib participants including interrogators and the participation of the CIA, watch the documentary Standard Operating Procedure. It addresses in real terms how there are some who have traded “just doing my job” with moral backbone.

  • chrisnfolsom

    The bigger issue here is letting popular media create semi-real versions of history. Media is so powerful and can be so manipulated. It is one thing to make a model even more pretty, but to do so with history is even worse – as in some Oliver Stone movies. I bet if you asked many young children today if Abraham Lincoln was a vampire killer they would agree….. With today’s media possibilities – the internet specifically – there should be full disclosure on facts vs fiction on movies that attempt to portray a real situations – as with all media the public is subjected to such as photo manipulations.

  • Numbers_Wonk

    “Reliable, actionable intelligence” is the test of interrogators. Torture does none of the above and should not be confused with interrogation.

    If we’re seeking proof to the fallacy look no further than North Vietnamese torture of our own pilots who successfully deceived their torturers for years.

    People will talk under torture, they will literally say everything and anything to stop the pain, but there is no assurance they are telling the truth. A naive interrogator will then send troops a fool’s errand or into a trap. Regardless, irreplaceable time and valuable resources will be wasted for no benefit.

    We saw too much of this post-9/11 when fantastic statements apparently generated from torture sessions would send thousands of FBI agents tracking down false leads. Perhaps the most absurd was deputies in rural Kansas staking out water reservoirs in fear of terrorist attacks.

  • poppycoppymcgee

    I’m just curious, does the film show the fake CIA vaccination program that was used to track down bin Laden? I haven’t heard any discussion of this morally repugnant aspect of the hunt for bin Laden which leads me to believe that its not portrayed in the film. I find that astounding given that its clearly an important part of the history of the hunt for bin Laden.

  • paul

    Today’s show is one of the best examples of media in-breeding that I have seen in a long time. It was a sweaty threesome united in ignorance. I am going to use it in my communications class as an example of what not to do. My students could have learned more if Krasny had invited an interrogator on his show and listened. The interrogator would have farted more substance than today’s program provided.

    Anyway, I doubt this topic will appear again. However, if it does, you’d be well served to invite an actual interrogator.

  • microlith

    The evidence is plentiful, if you look.

    That’s what the lady on CNN kept shouting when she called Obama a communist, but when pressed was never able to explain how he was a communist. Eventually she ran away, unable to explain what she was raving about.

    Claims require credible evidence, something conspiracy theorists are loathe to provide.

    Science and logic prove 9/11 was an inside job.

    Actually, science and logic would suggest that the prevailing, pedestrian explanation explains things fully. Not everything, but certainly most of what matters.

    the presence of particles of military-grade explosive

    You do realize that there’s no real special “military-grade” explosive, right? Not that you bothered to reference anything to explain what you mean.

    Or the fact that WTC 7 collapsed at free-fall speed.

    I don’t recall that ever being the case.


    Going to have me watch someone burn chicken wire?

    Good thing you’re not a cop, or a software engineer.

    Actually I am a software engineer. Belief in incredibly complex conspiracies wouldn’t get me anywhere. Knowing that institutional incompetence and the fact that large projects allow flaws to creep in (and information to leak) has saved me many a time.

    You’d be horrible at any job that requires questioning what you want to believe

    Being a software engineer or a cop does not require that you “question what you believe.” It requires that you understand what you’re doing and (particularly when debugging) tracing steps in a logical manner. Taking the illogical swing to “it was an inside job!” with no rational evidence just leads you down the path of conspiracies upon conspiracies.

  • Isn’t it astoundingly arrogant for a journalist to proclaim torture ok?

    considering the universal condemnation of torture and the memories of those who have gone through it, it seems for any person to declare torture ok is unbelievably arrogant. What gives you the right? How dare you legitimize the forced, coercive brutality inflicted on anyone.

  • $11165038

    Frank, just because someone doesn’t agree with doesn’t mean they don’t have an open mind.

    • chrisnfolsom

      Thank you – I would argue too open a mind has gotten us into many problems as well.

  • chrisnfolsom

    So I am supposed to believe “facts”? Believe that a theory is true because of a video? You blast the Occam’s Razor comparison, but beyond that – which is more of an association with what he said as he really didn’t mean it to be used this way, but I can see no valid way our government using present day technology (aliens perhaps) could plan, execute and contain this kind of event – it goes WAY beyond just killing Americans or a “few” for the good of the many and into utter craziness to what must be a religious kind of view and while I see many “patriots” out there I don’t see any religious movement that wants to manipulate world events this way, or has the power to work with many branches of government to do such a thing. With a lack of the capability to do such a thing can you actually say it is possible, and it not possible that the facts as presented by these videos and web sites could be true? I have to believe something is possible to believe it happened that way? I would think that you would respect me for my position and not try to ridicule me into giving up my reality for yours.

  • mekorganic

    It is hard to believe that anyone who would look at all the facts discovered from detailed research by dedicated engineers, scientists, researchers and other investigators can still beieve in the Government’s evil fairy tale or its “official conspiracy story”. How closed minded can people be when almost all the known facts contradict that story? Go to and educate yourself and if you still insist on believing Government lies prove me wrong. 5 years and still waiting for a challenge from you war criminal loving fools of our terrorist government.

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