Bin Laden’s death, in Hollywood pro-torture film and reality


This video says about itself:

Zero Dark Thirty: Glorifying torture in bed with the CIA

16 dec. 2012

Writer Glenn Greenwald argues that Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, which is already a front-runner to win the 2013 Best Film Oscar, is politically and morally reprehensible and a glorification of torture. Hollywood and the film’s director Kathryn Bigelow have climbed into bed with the CIA and produced pernicious propaganda for the view that the USA is always on the side of “good”, whatever our enemies do is always because they are “evil”, and anyone who is a Muslim is a “terrorist suspect”.

By David Walsh in the USA:

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty

CIA-embedded Hollywood liars and their lies

15 May 2015

Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, was a detestable work for many reasons. The film, released in December 2012 to much critical acclaim, was promoted as the true story of the decade-long hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, assassinated by the US military in Pakistan in May 2011.

Now we know, thanks to Seymour Hersh and his article in the London Review of Books, that, along with everything else, the Bigelow-Boal film was a pack of lies from beginning to end. About the only plot element of Zero Dark Thirty that remains unrefuted is that the CIA did indeed operate illegal “black sites” and horribly torture people.

As our original review noted, the film’s central figure, CIA agent Maya, is shown “conducting a single-minded pursuit of clues leading to the whereabouts of bin Laden, while bravely battling resistance from the entire male-dominated leadership of the CIA until she finally prevails.

“According to this improbable version of events, the junior female analyst single-handedly brought about the May 1, 2011 raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan that ended in the assassination of bin Laden and the shooting of several other defenseless men, women and children.”

“Improbable” seems to be the key word here.

Hersh points out in his lengthy piece that bin Laden was not living secretly at the time of his killing in a well-guarded hideout, as depicted in the film, but “had been a prisoner of the ISI [Pakistani intelligence service] at the Abbottabad compound since 2006.” He further explains “that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011 [seconded by Zero Dark Thirty], but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer [a “walk-in”!] who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US.”

So there was no intense debate at CIA headquarters as to whether bin Laden was actually living at the location in question, an important sequence in Bigelow’s film. In the face of rather wishy-washy superiors, Maya boldly insists it is a “100 percent” certainty that the house’s mysterious resident is indeed the al Qaeda leader. In actual fact, Pakistani officials had acknowledged to their American counterparts he was there in Abbottabad (“less than two miles from the Pakistan Military Academy,” and “another mile or so away” from “a Pakistani army combat battalion headquarters,” observes Hersh) and even handed over a DNA sample to prove the point.

Nor was there a deadly shoot-out at the compound. The Pakistani military and intelligence deliberately stood down and let the US Navy Seal team do its dirty work. “An ISI liaison officer flying with the Seals guided them into the darkened house and up a staircase to bin Laden’s quarters,” writes Hersh. Bin Laden was unguarded and unarmed, living on the third floor of the “shabby” house “in a cell with bars on the window and barbed wire on the roof.”

Nor did any CIA official identify the body after the murder, as Maya is shown doing in Bigelow’s film, because two members of the Seal team obliterated bin Laden, an elderly, seriously ailing man. Hersh writes that “some members of the Seal team had bragged to colleagues and others that they had torn bin Laden’s body to pieces with rifle fire. The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains—or so the Seals claimed.”

So much for the events that Bigelow absurdly claimed only “come along once or twice in a millennium”! So much for what Zero Dark Thirty’s director praised as “the brave work of those professionals in the military and intelligence communities”!

Bigelow and Boal hardly made a secret of the fact that they enjoyed intimate and unprecedented cooperation from the CIA and the Obama administration in the development of the project. Emails and transcripts released in May 2012 revealed that the previous July Bigelow and Boal had met with Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers and other Defense Department officials. Boal had earlier held discussions with top administration officials, including Obama’s Chief Counterterrorism Advisor John O. Brennan and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.

One of the released emails, from a CIA spokesperson, explained that the agency and other US government entities “have been engaging with the film’s screenwriter, Mark Boal. … Both Mark and Kathryn have told us how impressed they are with the Agency’s work in the UBL [Usama bin Laden] operation and how eager they are to bring that to the screen.”

The CIA and the administration gave the green light to the film, vetted or had changes made in its script and gloated about its usefulness as propaganda.

One of the principal lines of defense of the filmmakers and their apologists against critics was that Zero Dark Thirty did not render a judgment, was apolitical and simply presented the unadorned facts.

Boal evidently chose to believe (and pass on) every bit of information provided to him by the CIA, not exactly an organization known for its scrupulous adherence to the truth.

In an email sent May 10, 2011, Boal informs George Little of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs that he and Bigelow “are making a film about the extraordinary effort to capture or kill Usama Bin Laden. Given the historical nature of the subject matter, we intend to make accuracy and authenticity hallmarks of the production, for we believe that this is one of those rare instances where truth really is more interesting than fiction.”

One doesn’t know whether to laugh or …

In another remarkable email from June 13, 2011, Defense Department Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson wrote Under Secretary of Defense Vickers that “At the direction of Director [Leon] Panetta, CIA is cooperating fully [with the filmmakers] … For the intelligence case, they [Boal and Bigelow] are basically using the WH[White House]-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.”

And, as it turns out, those talking points were a series of fabrications.

In a February 2013 radio interview, Boal asserted: “Of course we tried to be as honest as we could. Who would go into a movie like this knowing there’s going to be the scrutiny there is, knowing the importance, knowing the deep underlying fissures in our political system on the policy issues and try to play fast and loose? You’d have to be out of your mind to do that.” Was Boal out of his mind then? Or had he simply bought into the “war on terror” so deeply that he was incapable of identifying lies when they were told him?

It is almost farcical. This is Boal, in the same radio interview, on the details of the hunt for bin Laden, now exposed as part of a White House-CIA cover story:

“I think that what led to Osama Bin Laden’s death is the work of thousands of people over the course of 10 years. We depict some of them. There were many different places that the information came from. Some of it came from the detainee program. A lot of it came out of good old-fashioned sleuthing, detective work, some of it came out of electronic surveillance. There’s a whole host of methods, but at the end of the day what the movie is really about that there’s a cerebral cortex involved here.”

Boal here admits somewhat grudgingly—after all, he is a liberal-minded man!—that only “some” of the information came from “the detainee program,” i.e., torture. And, as a result of Boal’s including this claim in the film, Zero Dark Thirty became part of the argument in certain circles for the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation.” But, in any case, it was all made up! Interrogations and torture had nothing to do with bin Laden’s being located.

Hersh writes: “That US intelligence had learned of bin Laden’s whereabouts from information acquired by waterboarding and other forms of torture,” a complete invention, was “pushed by [John] Brennan and [CIA director] Leon Panetta.” A bunch of retired CIA officers had been called in, according to one of Hersh’s sources, “‘to help with the cover story. So the old-timers come in and say why not admit that we got some of the information about bin Laden from enhanced interrogation?’ At the time, there was still talk in Washington about the possible prosecution of CIA agents who had conducted torture.”

It is difficult to express in words the contempt one feels for individuals like Bigelow and Boal.

They were both “leftists” of a sort once upon a time. In the 1970s Bigelow (born 1951) was a radical opponent of the Vietnam War, a figure on the artistic “avant-garde scene” and a student of postmodernism at Columbia University. One of her earliest film projects was a critique of US counterinsurgency methods and the use of death squads.

According to Jordan Michael Smith in the Nation, Boal (born 1973), a graduate of Oberlin College, “began writing for The Village Voice in 1998, documenting concerns about the burgeoning US surveillance infrastructure. … Boal was also freelancing for Mother Jones. In a terrific 1999 cover story, he investigated a garment factory in Kentucky that qualified as a sweatshop because of its below-sustenance wages, dangerous working conditions and intimidation against union organizers.”

Both have evolved, along with many other former middle class protesters and dissidents, into enthusiastic defenders of the state and its brutal operations, at home and abroad.

“You gotta be kidding me.” – Seymour Hersh on the timing of the new Bin Laden documents: here.

Poland will pay CIA torture victims


This video says about itself:

Poland admits to hosting CIA black site prisons on its soil after U.S. Senate torture report

10 December 2014

Poland has finally admitted it DID host an American black site prison after years of denying it just after a scathing report on CIA torture shed light on just how brutal the polices were. It’s the first acknowledgement by a foreign country of hosting such a site. A former Polish president says NATO was in a state of war at the time, and there was no question over allowing allies to use its territory.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Two win payout for CIA prison ordeal

Thursday 19th February 2015

POLAND’S Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said yesterday that his government would pay €230,000 (£170,000) in compensation to two men who were held in a secret CIA prison in the country.

The payout was ordered by the European Court of Human Rights, which rejected a Polish appeal against its original ruling.

The court ruled last July that Poland violated the rights of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah by allowing the CIA to imprison them and by failing to stop “the torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” they suffered.

It was the first judgement by any court on the “extraordinary renditions” programme under which the US abducted individuals from across the world and held them without trial in secret locations.

Mr Nashiri and Mr Zubaydah are still held in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp and Mr Schetyna queried whether the compensation could be paid to them directly.

On Tuesday, the Guardian revealed the existence of a secret interrogation facility operated by the Chicago Police Department, in what the newspaper called “the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site”: here.

13-year-old Yemeni boy dreamt about drones, killed by drone


This video says about itself:

‘My father was martyred by a drone

10 February 2015

‘My father was martyred by a drone‘: Yemeni teenager records life months before suffering a similar fate.

Mohammed Saleh Tauiman was 13 when the Guardian gave him a camera to record his family life in Marib province in northern Yemen in 2014. In this footage from the last months of 2014, Mohammed interviews his brothers and sisters about their father, killed in a US drone attack, as the unmanned CIA aircraft continued to fly sorties overhead. On 26 January Mohammed himself was killed by a US drone alongside his brother-in-law and another man.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

We dream about drones, said 13-year-old Yemeni before his death in a CIA strike

Mohammed Tuaiman becomes the third member of his family to be killed by what he called ‘death machines’ in the sky months after Guardian interview

Chavala Madlena, Hannah Patchett and Adel Shamsan in Sana’a

Tuesday 10 February 2015 07.01 GMT

A 13-year-old boy killed in Yemen last month by a CIA drone strike had told the Guardian just months earlier that he lived in constant fear of the “death machines” in the sky that had already killed his father and brother.

“I see them every day and we are scared of them,” said Mohammed Tuaiman, speaking from al-Zur village in Marib province, where he died two weeks ago.

“A lot of the kids in this area wake up from sleeping because of nightmares from them and some now have mental problems. They turned our area into hell and continuous horror, day and night, we even dream of them in our sleep.”

Much of Mohammed’s life was spent living in fear of drone strikes. In 2011 an unmanned combat drone killed his father and teenage brother as they were out herding the family’s camels.

The drone that would kill Mohammed struck on 26 January in Hareeb, about an hour from his home. The drone hit the car carrying the teenager, his brother-in-law Abdullah Khalid al-Zindani and a third man.

“I saw all the bodies completely burned, like charcoal,” Mohammed’s older brother Maqded said. “When we arrived we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t move the bodies so we just buried them there, near the car.”

Several anonymous US government officials told Reuters that the strike had been carried out by the CIA and had killed “three men believed to be al-Qaida militants”. …

Marib province has become a flashpoint in the struggle between the Houthi rebels –who have ousted the president after overrunning the capital – and the local tribes who reject the Shia group’s attempts to bring Marib under their control. Like the other families around al-Zur and throughout Marib province, the Tuaiman men have been involved in pushing back against the Houthis.

In a secretive programme carried out by the CIA in rural, isolated parts of Yemen, it is easy for confusion to surround the particulars of those killed in a drone strike. Affiliations with al-Qaida and anti-government tribal sympathies mesh and merge depending on who is attacking whom.

Maqdad said the family had been wrongly associated with al-Qaida, and family members strongly deny that Mohammed was involved in any al-Qaida or anti-Houthi fighting. “He wasn’t a member of al-Qaida. He was a kid.”

Speaking from al-Zur the day after his brother’s death, Meqdad said: “After our father died, al-Qaida came to us to offer support. But we are not with them. Al-Qaida may have claimed Mohammed now but we will do anything – go to court, whatever – in order to prove that he was not with al-Qaida.”

When the Guardian interviewed Mohammed last September, he spoke of his anger towards the US government for killing his father. “They tell us that these drones come from bases in Saudi Arabia and also from bases in the Yemeni seas and America sends them to kill terrorists, but they always kill innocent people. But we don’t know why they are killing us.

“In their eyes, we don’t deserve to live like people in the rest of the world and we don’t have feelings or emotions or cry or feel pain like all the other humans around the world.”

Mohammed’s father, Saleh Tuaiman, was killed in 2011 in a drone strike that also killed Mohammed’s teenage brother, Jalil. Saleh Tuaiman left behind three wives and 27 children.

The CIA and Pentagon were both asked to comment on whether the teenager had been confirmed as an al-Qaida militant. Both declined to comment.

Mohammed’s 27 siblings have now lost three family members in US drone strikes and may grow up with the same sense of confusion and injustice Mohammed expressed shortly before his death.

“The elders told us that it’s criminal to kill the civilians without distinguishing between terrorists and innocents and they kill just on suspicion, without hesitation.”

For Meqdad, Mohammed’s death has reignited his determination to seek out justice for his family. “We live in injustice and we want the United States to recognise these crimes against my father and my brothers. They were innocent people, we are weak, poor people, and we don’t have anything to do with this.”

U.S. CLOSING EMBASSY IN YEMEN “The State Department confirmed late Tuesday that it has closed the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and evacuated its staff because of the political crisis and security concerns following the takeover of much of the country by Shiite rebels.” Britain and France also have closed their embassies. [AP]

CIA drone kills twelve-year-old Yemeni child


This video says about itself:

Drone attacks in Yemen mostly hit civilians

17 July 2013

US drones strikes in Yemen nearly tripled last year compared to the year before, from 18 to 53, according to the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there have been up to 154 strikes by US drones in Yemen since 2002, that has killed almost 800 people. But it is mostly civilians who are often injured or killed in these attacks. Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow reports from the village of Subul in Northern Yemen.

Twelve-year-old boys are not killed in Cleveland in the USA …

By Thomas Gaist:

Twelve-year-old boy among three people killed

27 January 2015

Just days after Houthi rebels in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa toppled the US-backed government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Washington has resumed its drone war against the impoverished country, killing a 12-year-old boy and two alleged Al Qaeda militants in a missile strike against a car traveling in the eastern Marib province.

The strike was carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency, US officials told the Wall Street Journal. The CIA administers one of two US targeted killing programs directed against Yemen, with the other managed by the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

New waves of drone strikes against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are currently in preparation, President Barack Obama and US military officials said Sunday. The US has launched hundreds of drone strikes against alleged terrorist targets in Yemen in recent years.

Monday’s strike comes amid indications of preparations for expanded US and NATO military action in Yemen and a growing list of other countries. US Secretary of State John Kerry pointed to Nigeria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and the Central African Republic as candidates for new US military operations in remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

President Obama announced Monday that he would cut short his visit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to travel to Riyadh for discussions with Saudi leaders focused on the situation in Yemen and the US-led war in Iraq and Syria.

Obama administration national security official Ben Rhodes told Reuters that the meetings would focus on “the leading issues where we cooperate very closely with Saudi Arabia,” so as to insure “good alignment” with regard to US-Saudi “overlapping interests.”

US efforts to train Syrian opposition fighters are being closely coordinated with the Saudi monarchy, Rhodes said.

In statements on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” program last Sunday, Senators John McCain, a Republican, and Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, highlighted the bipartisan support enjoyed by the Obama administration as it plans to unleash yet another surge of military violence across broad areas of the Middle East and Africa.

Warning that Iran is “on the move in Bahrain” and is “winning,” McCain called for new training missions, Special Forces deployments, and air and drone campaigns against Iran’s regional allies, including the Syrian government and Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). He also urged an escalation of the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Iran is on the march throughout the region,” McCain said, adding, “The Iranians are now either dominant or extremely influential in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen. AQAP and the ISIS in both Iraq and Syria are doing quite well. There is no strategy to defeat them.”

“We need more boots on the ground,” McCain said. “Thousands of young people all over the world” are flocking to the banners of ISIS and similar groups, he warned.

Acknowledging that this was “a tough thing for Americans to swallow,” McCain called for deployment of “Special Forces” and “air controllers,” as well as “intelligence” and “other capabilities” to Yemen and areas along the Syrian and Iraqi borders.

“We can’t train young people in Syria and send them back into Syria to be barrel-bombed by Bashar Assad,” McCain said, making the case for a campaign to “neutralize” Assad’s air forces with the imposition of a “no-fly zone.”

Feinstein repeatedly noted her agreement with McCain during the talk show, warning of the threat posed by growing Iranian power and saying it was necessary to take “a good look at our policy with respect to Yemen.”

She said, “My concern is, where is Iran going? Is Iran trying to begin the development of an Iranian crescent?”

Asked whether she favored new ground troop deployments, Feinstein avoided a direct answer while clearly implying her support. The US must “relook” at its policy in relation to Syria, she said, expressing agreement with McCain that the US must not “tolerate Assad.”

Speaking on behalf of the Obama administration, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told “Face the Nation” that the Obama administration is preparing to expand military operations aimed at “destroying… manifestations of Al Qaeda” in South Asia, East Africa and North Africa.

McDonough said that the White House has sought to negotiate a “political agreement” with the Houthi militants who have taken control of the Yemeni capital that would allow the US military and CIA to “keep on the offensive against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

The US embassy in Yemen is being closed to the public and is suspending all consular services for an indefinite period of time, US officials announced Monday. The US embassy is closing because it is now surrounded by “chaos,” an anonymous State Department official told Reuters. The US already carried out a partial evacuation of embassy staff last week.

Former Central Intelligence Agency officer Jeffrey Sterling was found guilty of violating the 1917 Espionage Act Monday for providing information to the New York Times regarding covert operations conducted by the CIA against Iran. Sterling was convicted of nine felonies including illegally possessing and transferring secret government information. He could receive up to 100 years in prison after sentencing in late April: here.

Operation ‘Merlin': Another self-serving CIA project. The CIA hoped the Jeffrey Sterling trial would make “Operation Merlin” look good, but CIA cables reveal a self-interest bureaucracy at work: here.