Joe Scarborough is back at it again, apologizing for torture and telling lies about whether it works. Every time I think this show can't get much worse, I turn it on like I did this morning and realize I'm wrong. This had to be one of the more disgusting segments I've watched in a while, and that's saying a lot for this show. Scarborough and his panel members, David Ignatius and Jon Meacham, did their best to help revise history and help Scarborough play torture apologist while discussing the new film coming out this month, Zero Dark Thirty.
Glenn Greenwald has more on the problems with the premise of this movie: Zero Dark Thirty: new torture-glorifying film wins raves:
Earlier this year, the film "Zero Dark Thirty", which purports to dramatize the hunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden, generated substantial political controversy. It was discovered that CIA and White House officials had met with its filmmakers and passed non-public information to them - at exactly the same time that DOJ officials were in federal court resisting transparency requests from media outlets and activist groups on the ground that it was all classified.
With its release imminent, the film is now garnering a pile of top awards and virtually uniform rave reviews. What makes this so remarkable is that, by most accounts, the film glorifies torture by claiming - falsely - that waterboarding and other forms of coercive interrogation tactics were crucial, even indispensable in finding bin Laden.In the New York Times on Sunday, Frank Bruni wrote: "I'm betting that Dick Cheney will love the new movie 'Zero Dark Thirty.'" That's because "'enhanced interrogation techniques' like waterboarding are presented as crucial" to finding America's most hated terrorist. [...]
The claim that waterboarding and other torture techniques were necessary in finding bin Laden was first made earlier this year by Jose Rodriguez, the CIA agent who illegally destroyed the agency's torture tapes, got protected from prosecution by the DOJ, and then profited off this behavior by writing a book. He made the same claim as "Zero Dark Thirty" regarding the role played by torture in finding bin Laden.
That caused two Senators who are steadfast loyalists of the CIA - Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein and Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin - to issue statements definitively debunking this assertion. Even the CIA's then-Director, Leon Panetta, made clear that those techniques played no role in finding bin Laden. An FBI agent central to the bin Laden hunt said the same.
What this film does, then, is uncritically presents as fact the highly self-serving, and factually false, claims by the CIA that its torture techniques were crucial in finding bin Laden. Put another way, it propagandizes the public to favorably view clear war crimes by the US government, based on pure falsehoods.
And Mediaite's Tommy Christopher did a nice job of breaking down just how dishonest this Morning Joe segment was: Joe Scarborough Claims Zero Dark Thirty Torture Scene True, Screenwriter And Facts Disagree:
In textbook Morning Joe fashion, the assembled panel debated some of the finer points of Bruni’s piece, but none of them challenged Scarborough’s assertion that the film proves that torture works, and was crucial to the killing of Osama bin Laden, an assertion that the film’s screenwriter admits, and that the facts demonstrate, is false.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski began with a selective reading of Bruni’s piece, in which he describes the depiction of torture:
It’s about finding a needle in a uniquely messy and menacing haystack. “Enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding are presented as crucial to that search, and it’s hard not to focus on them, because the first extended sequence in the movie shows a detainee being strung up by his wrists, sexually humiliated, deprived of sleep, made to feel as if he’s drowning and shoved into a box smaller than a coffin.
Scarborough then told the panel that Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty “presents a narrative that is going to make a lot of people in the mainstream media, in the Democratic party and in the administration uncomfortable, and that is the truth that Barack Obama learned, the first briefing that he got after after he won the election, and that is that the CIA program, whether you find it repugnant or not, actually was effective with KSM and other people getting actionable intelligence that led to couriers, that led, eventually, years later, to the killing of Osama bin Laden.”
Guest panelist David Ignatius added that “There’s no question in the record that the film shows, and in other research that I’ve done, that the name of the courier who led us to bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad emerged in these harsh interrogations,” which, as you’ll see, is not the same thing as saying we learned his name through torture. We did not.
Scarborough went on to complain about the years he’s had to endure people telling him that torture doesn’t work (yeah, that must have been torture), but “I knew that was just not true. It did get information, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other terrorists, that eventually led to not just the killing of Osama bin Laden, but a lot of victories.”
He also joked about prisoners being tortured by having to watch three hours of Morning Joe a day, because torture is now hilarious, because Joe Scarborough says this movie proves it works. Except it doesn’t, as Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal blithely admits. Read on...
And last but not least, here's more from Andrew Sullivan on the torture apologists from back in May of 2011: The Big Lie: Torture Got Bin Laden.