After seeing the new film Zero Dark Thirty, I think there are three things everyone should know:
1) Zero Dark Thirty is not a documentary. The film’s screenwriter, Mark Boal, said: “It’s a movie. It’s not a documentary… My standard is not a journalistic standard of ‘Is this a word-for-word quote?’ I’m not asking to be held to that standard and I’m certainly not representing my film as that. The standard is more, ‘Is this more or less in the ballpark?’”
2) Torture did not help find Osama bin Laden. This is established by the public record and verified by people who have access to classified information. For example, yesterday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) sent this letter to the head of Sony Entertainment with citations pointing out that torture and other abuses did not help find Osama bin Laden.
3) The most important point is this: torture is immoral, always unlawful, and never permitted. Torture and ill-treatment are unequivocally prohibited under the U.S. Constitution and under international law. No derogation or exceptional circumstances can be invoked as justification for torture or ill-treatment. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) put it this way:
“The issue isn’t ‘Does torture work or not.’ The issue is ‘Is torture right, or is torture wrong?’ And the answer to that is torture is wrong.”
The question now: What can be done to ensure that torture and other ill-treatment are never again used by or on behalf of the U.S. government?
>Help tell the truth about torture. Hand out this Fact Sheet: Torture & Osama bin Laden at screenings of Zero Dark Thirty.
>Call Senator Feinstein’s office at 202.224.3841 and urge her to do everything in her power to ensure that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s new report on CIA torture is declassified and made public with as few redactions as possible. Public release of the report would be a step toward countering pro-torture voices and helping ensure that torture and other abuses are never again committed.
>Join the January 11 Day of Action Against Guantanamo. The prison is the United States’ global symbol of human rights violations ranging from torture to indefinite detention to unfair trials, and it remains open. Sign up at www.amnestyusa.org/jan11.
At the end of Zero Dark Thirty, the CIA analyst is asked “Where do you want to go?”
We should each ask ourselves that same question. Do we want the United States to continue to violate human rights with impunity in the name of a never-ending and vaguely defined “global war”—detention without charge, unlawful killings with drones, extreme solitary confinement and unfair trials—for the rest of our lives and the rest of our children’s lives?
Or will we say “enough” and embrace security with human rights and the rule of law?