The partial release last week of a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s use of torture shed light on why Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) were so livid over the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.” In their eyes, the movie suggested that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques yielded valuable information in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But the report strongly contradicted that assumption.
On the latest “PopPolitics,” Tim Naftali, the author of “Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism,” talks about what the report says about the movie, for which screenwriter Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow obtained cooperation from the CIA.
Naftali says that they may have gotten in the middle of a tangle between the CIA and the Senate, underscoring the complexities of trying to make a movie account of an intelligence event so soon after it occurred.
With institutions like the CIA, “If they give away something to you, it has got to be for a reason,” Naftali says. For authors and filmmakers, “You have to understand that whatever you get, they want you to have.”
Boal and Bigelow said at the time “Zero Dark Thirty” (pictured) was released in December 2012 that they were not endorsing torture but depicting events. They also say that the movie offers a more nuanced view of the value of interrogation. “We made the movie based on the reporting that we did,” Bigelow told Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” last week. “I applaud transparency in government, so I think it’s good that it’s out there. It’s complicated. It’s very, very, very complicated.”
Greg Barker, the director of the documentary “We Are the Giant,” talks about his portraits of activists involved in Arab Spring protests, including those from Libya, Syria and Bahrain. His movie, which opened this weekend, is a reminder of how young activists pursued a nonviolent approach at great personal risk. Even though the situation has deteriorated considerably, particularly in Syria, some of the protest leaders have a great deal of hope.
“It is extraordinary they are able to maintain that optimism,” Barker says. “They feel they are part of a long struggle that could take decades.” See a clip here.
On The Mix, Variety‘s Cynthia Littleton and U.S. News’ Nikki Schwab talk about the legacy of Stephen Colbert when it comes to how politicians handle satirical comedy. The great unknown is how Colbert will fare when he steps out of character next year as the new host of CBS’ “The Late Show.”
Marvin Bing, director of Arts for Amnesty at Amnesty International, talks about why it’s been so important for the organization to have a celebrity promote some of its campaigns, including recent protests over police brutality and gun violence. Their latest campaign, tied to Human Rights Day, is called Write4Rights.
PopPolitics, hosted by Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS 124.