Conspiracy theorists and freedom of speech proponents will have a field day with Alex Gibney’s “Zero Days,” a dramatized documentary that probes how and why the Stuxnet Internet virus was unleashed on the world.
The film plays in competition at the Berlin Film Festival, the perfect platform for Gibney’s brand of politically charged muckraking.
At a press conference Wednesday in Berlin ahead of the film’s first public screening, the angry but always eloquent Gibney attacked a culture of state secrecy that he said was growing.
“The trend towards greater secrecy in the U.S. administration is appalling,” he said. “It is preventing discussion about offensive cyber-weapons.”
Israeli security expert and adviser to the film Yossi Melman said the use of Stuxnet, which was used to attack Iran, marked the first time that Western governments had been revealed as using such cyber-technology. Previously it had been the preserve of non-state actors – at least publicly.
David Sanger, author and another adviser to the film, said the world is increasingly faced with three new weapons: covert operations by special forces; drones; and cyber-warfare.
The trio of speakers pointed to the changed political dimensions afforded by such weaponry. They suggested that President Obama, instead of negotiating with Iran from a position of weakness, as had been widely assumed, had secret arms up his sleeves and even a fallback position.
They also suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – by coincidence in Berlin this week for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel – has also pulled off “one of the biggest disinformation campaigns” in history by appearing to be willing to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear enhancement program.
Gibney had only cool words for two other anti-establishment heroes. He described Julian Assange as “a publisher” and “not a criminal,” before distancing himself from the rape charges that the WikiLeaks founder faces in Sweden.
Similarly, he scarcely took the bait when offered the chance to praise whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden provided “context, detail and background” for the film, said Gibney.