Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Sheen Director: Gregor Jordan
And Carrie-Anne Moss (Amazon stinks at listing all authors and actors)
5.0 out of 5 stars
Astonishing–Riveting–Thought Provoking–Beyond Five Stars
May 28, 2010
EDIT of 27 August 2010: The Intelligence Science Board, the top advisory board to the Director of National Intelligence, has just come out with firm documented conclusions against coercive interviewing and absolutely demanding non-coercive interviewing. People like Col stuart Harrington and I have known this for decades, but it is nice to have the following (full links at Phi Beta Iota):
The ISB study notably dissected the “ticking time bomb” scenario that is often portrayed in television thrillers (and which has “captured the public imagination”). The authors patiently explained why that hypothetical scenario is not a sensible guide to interrogation policy or a justification for torture. Moral considerations aside, the ISB report said, coercive interrogation may produce unreliable results, foster increased resistance, and preclude the discovery of unsuspected intelligence information of value (pp. 40-42).
Bottom line: all of you that hate this review (shoot the messenger) have the best of intentions but you have absolutely no clue about real-life. Intelligence, not ideology, should be restoring America the Beautiful. That will not happen until We the People wake up and recognize that there is a two-party tryanny owned and operated by Wall Street, and we are being treated as expendable pigs.
Edit of 28 June 2010: the voting on this review appears to mirror the divide in America between left of center and right of center, with no dialog. I encourage a dialog in the comments section and will respond on a daily basis. The world is NOT “win-lose,” it is only “lose-lose” or “win-win” or what one author calls “Non-Zero.” We can either die as a species, or live as a species, there is no “eugenics” possible as much as Henry Kissinger (who can never return to France) might like the term. There is only one “we.” What we lack right now is educated leaders with open minds who have integrity. This topic–torture–and this review–against torture of Americans by Americans–and these votes–American against American–are a window into our soul and what I am seeing is no basis for happiness.
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I am 57 years old, been a spy, did Viet-Nam (63-67) as the son of an oil man going through ten coups d'etat, did El Salvador where I was personally threatened with assassination by the guys running the country who did not like me talking to leftists, and so on. I am also one of the handful of Americans who signed the letter to Senator John “POWS in VN? What POWs” McCain against torture. The thousand five hundred non-fiction reviews I have done all serve as a foundation for saying that this movie is a MUST SEE for every American.
For some time now I have felt that the US Government is out of touch with the American public, out of touch with reality, and out of touch with ethics. Ethics is a really important word that has been central to my life these past twenty years as I along with a number of others have realized that most of what the US Government does in the way of both secret intelligence and global military operations is unethical, unprofessional, unrealistic, predatory, and generally a waste of the taxpayers' money.
This movie is not like Sum of All Fears or Live Free or Die Hard (Unrated Edition) or any of the other good guys win in the end movies. This movie focuses on our soul as seen in torture, and it very ably calls into question the idiocy of US foreign policy these past fifty years.
Here are the highlights as best I can offer them from the movie, and then I will list eight books that support the central thrust of this movie, to wit, we are our own worst enemy.
1) A decent American citizen converts to Islam and is gradually radicalized against the US Government (not the Republic, not the American people, not America the Beautiful, just the US Government).
2) Trained by our own secret intelligence empire (if Keystone Kops can be said to have an empire, more like a lot of little fiefdoms floating freely) and the US Army (which today trains most US criminal gang members and in Afghanistan trains the Taliban that cycles its best fighters through US training under names we are too stupid to figure out), he decides that the US Government must be held accountable and forced to withdraw from the Middle East, forced to stop supporting the dictators of the world.
3) While enabled by the US Government, which does terrible things such as sponsor major drug dealers and keep them out of jail under the delusion that some higher national security purpose is served, he gets his hands on a sufficient quantity of Russian nuclear material that he combines with his US training (in Iran they are still laughing, CIA turned over the complete plans for building a nuclear bomb, the Iranians caught the sophomoric changes that were supposed to make the plans not work, and presto, thank you CIA for the nuclear bomb in Iran (and thank you Zbigniew Brzezinski for the nuclear bomb in Pakistan, which is the real reason the Iranians want nuclear–they fear the Pakistani Sunni nuclear bomb, not the US “useful idiots” that can be tricked into taking Saddam Hussein and the Taliban out).
4) He builds and plants a number of nuclear bombs, and then deliberately gets himself captured. Most of the movie is about torture, the ethics of torture, the convoluted truly criminally inept US Government where spies lies to the military, the military lies to the FBI, and the reality that most of what the US Government does “in our name” is simply NOT in the public interest–not in the US public interest and certainly not in the interest of the tens of millions we have harmed in the past fifty years with our covert wars, support for dictators, and so on.
5) He makes two simple demands as a loyal American citizen converted to Islam and driven to act for ethical reasons:
a) Stop supporting dictators (see Ambassador Mark Palmer's book below); and
b) Bring the troops home, stop occupying or having a presence overseas.
I will not spoil the conclusion, I will only say that this movie is vastly more than entertainment, this is educational, it is personal, public, and political (the subtitle of my second book) and it is as perfect a movie about reality as I have seen in my adult memory. Samuel L. Jackson and Carrie-Anne Moss are utterly world-class, and I give the producer, the director, the script writer–everyone–top marks. This is BEYOND FIVE STARS.
Now here are eight books (Amazon limits me to ten links), you can see all the other books in 98 non-fiction categories at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog:
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025
Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier
Defense Facts of Life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq
In my view as a professional who has produced seven or eight books, all non-fiction, the US Government is OUT OF CONTROL. Both the White House and the Congress are corrupt, the US is suffering from a two-party tyranny that has so perverted and corrupted the electoral process that the US no longer qualifies as a full democracy by international standards. Across the land the public is waking up, states are talking both nullification of federal laws financed by banks and pharmaceuticals and others, and also talking secession. As a loyal American citizen I believe that the Republic is on the verge of political collapse in the aftermath of moral, economic, and cultural collapse–we have a cheating culture, we have screwed the middle class, there is a global class war (these are all titles of books), and the bottom line is that every politician and every political appointee and every bureaucrat that “goes along” with the corruption is a traitor to the Republic.
This movie shows you the soul of treason. It is absolutely, utterly priceless, and I for one am moved to tears to see the stark harsh reality of our demise. I am ashamed of the US Government–all three branches–and I am almost–not totally–in despair over the likelihood that I will die before we restore the Republic, the honor of the flag, and the integrity of government service.
God Bless America–and may God–whether the agnostic god of ethical community or the religious god calling for the Golden Rule–shed light on America again.
Learn more at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog. There are not enough guns on the planet to keep humanity down for much longer–I pray every single day for collective intelligence emergent and able to create a prosperous world at peace.