Zero Dark Thirty: Of Torture, bin Laden, and Chastain

I watched Zero Dark Thirty out of curiosity of 2 things: (1) How good Jessica Chastain was in the movie and (2) What’s the fuss with the torture debate that I’ve read online.

As the movie started, which was a little dragging, I wanted to be as unbiased as possible.

If I lost one of my family members in the 9/11 attack, how would I have felt?

Angry at the terrorist, confused at the reason for all these, and lost in the web of international terrorist and counter-terrorist cruelties.

Zero Dark Thirty 2012 Poster
Zero Dark Thirty 2012 Poster

The debate is endless as to why the US is meddling in the business of the oil-rich middle east countries. Is the 9/11 an effect of the US superpower’s hand in the affairs of a sovereign country? I guess the deeper questions there are, who really is Osama Bin Laden, why did he do what he did?

If I research the answer to those questions, I would have written a book and not a blog.

But we don’t, and never should, forget the reasons for this attack: UBL and Al-Qaeda cited the US support of Israel, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, and the sanctions against Iraq as the motives for the attack. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks )

Another perspective that presented itself, is that of the operatives who were trying to track down UBL for years post-9/11. No torture, no Osama.

We see in the movie different types of torture, all to weed out any information leading to UBL’s capture or death. This is where I was actually confused about how I felt. Part of me remembered the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Torture is a violation of human rights, and as thus is unacceptable. My sister died defending these rights.

But the other side of me wanted to track the deadliest terrorist, at all cost.

My sister was killed in 2001. We lost the triple murder case and can’t file an appeal because it’s double jeopardy. We filed another case in the United Nations Commission of Human Rights, and they found the culprits, led by a SGT Torilla, to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Beng Hernandez
Beng Hernandez

That decision has yet to be honored by the Philippine Government and as thus, Justice has still been elusive for us.

So, I know how it feels like to be desperate to make the culprits pay. I lost a sister. But we lost thousands in the 4 attacks in September 11, 2001, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who wanted UBL dead and the Al-Qaeda crushed, no matter what.

If the CIA has not done what it has done, UBL could have already launched more attacks. More embassies, hotels, business establishments, and planes would be targeted. More people would die.

Did the means really justify the end? I’m not one to pass judgement. I just a little bit more secured now that UBL is no more. Although you really can’t say. Not more than 24 hours ago, Megamall scrambled because of supposed heist. No casualties, yes. But it doesn’t prove that we’re safe anywhere, although that’s an entirely different story.

The only other thing I liked about the movie is Jessica Chastain’s performance. They say her role is based on a real female CIA agent who worked for a decade to track UBL. After her friends died in the December 2009 suicide bombings, she was resolved to not stop the hunt. Not now, not ever.

Zero Dark Thirty Chastain
Zero Dark Thirty Chastain

My favorite line in the movie was when CIA Agent Maya (Chastain) said: “A lot of my friends died trying to do this. I believe I was spared to finish the job”. Nobody wanted to believe that she was right, that UBL was just in the town, among the people, and not in some cave. But in May 2001, the CIA, with the help of the Navy SEALS, killed UBL, ending the decade-long manhunt. The title got its name because Zero Dark Thirty is a military term for 30 minutes after midnight, and it refers to the darkness and secrecy that cloaked the entire decade-long manhunt. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_dark_thirty )

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty

Chastain was bold in the movie. Other real-life CIA agents said she was able to depict the true CIA Agent who remains nameless and still works undercover. I’m just glad that she is nominated for Best Actress for the Oscars, and not Best Supporting Actress, since I’m rooting for Anne Hathaway =) {She won the Best Actress Award for Drama in the Golden Globe Awards.}

Since it’s still a debate, (A)  were you against the torture of some Afghan prisoners, or (B) did it become acceptable because it led to the capture and death of UBL? Cast your votes below!

0 thoughts on “Zero Dark Thirty: Of Torture, bin Laden, and Chastain”

    1. A line from the movie: “Wanted”. Will, read the other comment about the blog. I never expected I would get such a comment. My heart goes out to those who have been tortured. I want to rewrite my blog because of what he wrote. sad =(

  1. I was tortured for almost 3 years by the FBI and their friends only
    because 85 years old man, Roland Sibens(chicago) convinced them that I
    am a terrorist. I was tortured for working on my prosthetic legs in
    the basement. I done absolutely nothing illegal or wrong. They thought
    that in theory it is possible to hide bomb in them. They saw an
    opportunity to get famous, so they were trying to torture me till I
    sign their insane story. They tortured me using more than 100
    different torturing methods and trust to me waterboarding is not how
    they torture nowadays. I dont know where to find justice.

    I think that after 9/11 things got out of control. Freedom fighters
    became tyrants. In 1945, most Germans had an opportunity to learn about Nazis death
    camps. I hope that one day American citizens will get chance to learn about people
    like me, who were tortured with no reason for years.

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