January 9, 2013

More on "Zero Dark Thirty"

A few more reflections on Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal's movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden:

- Were secrets leaked to the filmmakers? Maybe, but I didn’t learn much I didn’t already know. Bigelow is an artist who tends toward abstraction over informativeness, so, as with most of her soldier/CIA/submariner films (unlike, say, Tom Clancy soldier/CIA/submariner movies), Thirty isn’t broadly enlightening. 

- Since the first half hour of the film consists of a CIA Ph.D. abusing an Al-Qaeda accountant while Jessica Chastain’s heroine looks on, does this mean that torture is effective? Beats me. It’s naïve to assume that any element of this movie is unspun. Every insider who talked to Boal had an agenda. 

- The film's casting of actors to play SEAL Team Six appears to be intentionally confusing. Almost all the commandos are depicted as beefy, bearded, and visually interchangeable. The publicity shot above might be deliberately taunting in its indistinctiveness. The two main commando characters are played by Chris Pratt (the generic-looking big American white guy who played the first baseman in Moneyball) and another actor who looks like Chris Pratt. Any would-be terrorist who sees Thirty Dark Zero looking for clues as to the individual identities of the Americans who killed bin Laden will likely emerge more confused than when he bought his ticket.

As I mention in my review, I suspect the filmmakers might be playing a similarly-intentioned but opposite trick in casting the memorable-looking redhead Jessica Chastain as CIA analyst "Maya" (called "Jen" in ex-SEAL Mark Bissonette's book).

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Any would-be terrorist who sees Thirty Dark Zero looking for clues as to the individual identities of the Americans who killed bin Laden will likely emerge disappointed."

On the contrary. He would conclude ZZ Top and Ted Nugent killed UBL.

Anonymous said...

"Any would-be terrorist who sees Thirty Dark Zero looking for clues as to the individual identities of the Americans who killed bin Laden will likely emerge disappointed."

More like he would be retarded.

Anonymous said...

So the Dark Enlightenment ain't gonna "J'accuse" Naomi Wolf?

Hell, they're even pissed off over at Michael Huffington's beard's website.

Remind me again why we even have a Dark Enlightenment.

Anonymous said...



I was watching HAYWIRE by Steven Soderbergh. So terrible I stopped after 30 min. It starred some professional fighting woman who can't act worth a damn.

Here she is making a fool out of herself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTG1S_MCb9k

But these girls are so ugly I guess it doesn't matter if they bash each other's face in.

Volksverhetzer said...

I kind of doubt Navy Seals are very bulky compared to the average soldier. I have relatives that are special-ops, and the "shooters" are always around medium hight, skinny guys.

I know the US soldiers have a lot more muscles than Norwegians, English or German, and that this applies to the special ops as well, but I doubt even the US would have movie star like muscles for their Navy Seals.

The human body can only absorb around 8000 calories per day, so the most beefy recruits tends to get problems on long marshes.

Heavy people are also more prone to injuries from their own weight than skinny ones, like strained joints and broken bones.

Weight kills acceleration, so while big muscles still is an advantage in unarmed combat, the same is not true when there are weapons involved.

Kibernetika said...

They'll run through your neighborhood at 05:30 in boots, and recite classical poetry on demand. These guys are crazy effective. I didn't believe it until I saw it.

Anonymous said...

I have zero interest in seeing this film. I'm sick of Hollywood action spectacle and Hollywood high concept/topical movies, as well as Hollywood political propaganda, and this seems to be all of those wrapped up in one, with a lot of inevitable historical inaccuracy and distortion to boot. Doubtless it's well-made with snappy dialogue and fast cutting for effect. Who cares.

Jefferson said...

Hey Steve Sailer, does Zero Dark Thirty make the Navy Seals look more "racially diverse" than they actually are in real life ?

Did half of the Navy Seals in Zero Dark Thirty look like Don Cheadle ? So that the Black audiences watching the movie do not feel any racially low self esteem.

Anonymous said...

Cris Cyborg took extra testosterone to help her achieve her MMA standard.

Anonymous said...

"Did half of the Navy Seals in Zero Dark Thirty look like Don Cheadle ? So that the Black audiences watching the movie do not feel any racially low self esteem."

No, they mostly look like unshaven white guys. Just like the Delta operators in Blackhawk Down. Or real life.

Anonymous said...

This was the most politically incorrect movie of the decade. Torture works. Period. Can i be an isolationist card carrying paleo and still admitthat torture works in missions like this?

Anonymous said...

Torture is all good now that Obama has won and it's going to be democrat presidents from here to the breakup. Especially if that torture protects diverse-American lives. Anti-torture was just a cudgel to beat up republicans all along. In the future, there's going to be a movie like this about the heroic killing of a White revolutionary leader based out of the tribal areas of Idaho, Complete with torture scenes of his underlings,

Also, this movie (assuming the story is mostly true) basically shits all over the marxist view of history, ie that it's a collision of impersonal forces. The reality is that motivated individuals do make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Jesse Ventura was a former Navy Seal. Not sure how skinny he was during that time, but he sure filled out since.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

@Volksverhetzer

Yes I knew many Navy Seals and many of them looked very ordinary.

Endurance and skills are more valued than brute strength.

However Army Sp Opps such as Rangers and Green Berets can be quite burly although most of them are curiously not very tall(not just the Hispanics but whites as well).Rarely do they go beyond 5'10 or 6' at the most.

Dr Van Nostrand said...



No, they mostly look like unshaven white guys. Just like the Delta operators in Blackhawk Down. Or real life.
"

You beat me to this comment.Actually in the directors commentary the producer Jerry Bruckheimer was a bit alarmed that the overwhelmingly white Sp Opps vs the entirely black Somali would produce the predictable cries of RACISM from the usual suspects.
While noting there was one black Sp member, he pleaded with Mark Bowden if he was sure there werent any more(translation: can I put in more blacks for the sake of diversity and not looking racis).Mark Bowden answered with a flat NO, this was the racial composition of the companies involved and you better damn well keep it as is.

How many writers would have that resolve and integrity not to go full PC?

In the end from what I remember, despite some cries of racism from the usual gang of idiots, no one paid heed and the movie was appreciated in all circles.

Name drop alert:
The character who was 2nd in command in the Central ops room was based on my former boss and a veteran of Mogadishu: Lee Van Arsdale.
He requested that his actual name not be used for the character.He also provides one of the commentaries.

Nick Diaz said...

@Volksverhertzer

"The human body can only absorb around 8000 calories per day, so the most beefy recruits tends to get problems on long marshes."

Uh...what? No, this is not true at all. Because calories in the wild are expensive, we are adapted to utilize as many as there are available. There IS a limit to how many calories you can consume, but that limit is reacher when the liver and kidneys collpse from excessive ammonia, creatinine, urea and other physiological by products of food metabolization. This happens at na amount MUCH higher than 8,000 calories in a period of 24 hours. Usually around 30,000 to 50,000 calories in a perdiod of 24 hours. At those amounts, you reach critical hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity. You get very sick and experience severe emesis. 8,000 calories is nothing. Some of the World's Strongest Man competitors eat 12,000 a day for years on end.

It is amzing the amount of pseudo-scientific garbage and logical faux passes that is written and committed by Steve Sailer's sycophants in this blog. Like toddlers who forgot to take their methylphenidate.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

Back in the day, I was on a sub equipped for SDV ops.

Worked with plenty of SEAL teams as part of ship's company.

I'd agree that they all don't have extreme muscular builds, swimmers in general don't. A few big guys, but not so many.

Not a very diverse bunch, but compared to submarine crews during my era, they were positively "vibrant", with an occasional black guy here and there.

Good bunch of guys. Back then, Cold War era, they were relatively poorly officered, as the way to get ahead in the USN was subs/aviation.

Army Special Forces, back then, seemed a lot more on the ball (again, organizationally/officerly, not man for man) because the guys getting ahead in the Army (infantry, other combat arms), they would rotate those guys through Ranger, Spec Ops, etc, units, get their ticket punched, it was all packs, rifles, anyhow.

But no way were you going to rotate pilots/sub drivers through a spec forces tour, so the SEALS got sort of second rate officers back then and it showed.

Obviously, this has all changed since decades ago w/the current focus on special forces, etc, undoubtedly SEAL teams are getting the creme de la creme of USNA, ROTC, other officer programs, whoever they want.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

What does it mean to say "torture works" or "torture doesn't work".

That is a lot like the question, "Do you like being married", heavily dependent on context, as in, to whom are you married.

Whether torture "works" probably depends a lot on who is being tortured, for what reasons, etc. Even then, "works"/"not works" doesn't really mean much.

Does torture have to "work" (whatever that is) 100% of the time? 50%? How well does "intelligence" work? Lots of inaccuracies there, no doubt.

FWIW, I'm generally against torture as a civilized being as well as for pragmatic purposes, it gives the enemy terrific propaganda value.

But it still is an interesting question, what is the benchmark that must be passed for torture, as a general policy, be said to "work". I guess, in warfare, this would be doing more benefit than harm (including the diversion of resources to conduct torture rather than drop bombs or something, the propaganda value to enemy, a holistic assessment), that would be good enough to say "torture works". After that, then, the question is "how well does torture work", as in is it better to spend time torturing rather than bribing, carpet bombing, false flagging, whatever.

Not simple questions.

Anonymous said...

Can i be an isolationist card carrying paleo and still admitthat torture works in missions like this?

Torture almost always works. It works for coercing false confessions. But it also works for getting information out of prisoners that can be corroborated through physical evidence or cross-checked against what other prisoners say. Third World cop I talked to mentioned that he was able to get information on where to find crime-related evidence simply by turning the air-conditioning down to hypothermic levels. A lot of so-called paleos have simply internalized leftist pap from the 60's onwards. WWII GI's routinely tortured prisoners for info. It ain't pretty, but when lives are on the line, including your own...

fnn said...

A lot of so-called paleos have simply internalized leftist pap from the 60's onwards. WWII GI's routinely tortured prisoners for info.

The paleos of the 1939-41 era didn't want an American empire or a permanent warfare state. After the war, Robert Taft and other anti-interventionists didn't have much enthusiasm for Truman's Cold War.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_First_Committee

OSS said...

Can i be an isolationist card carrying paleo and still admitthat torture works in missions like this?

Yes, but with caveats.

1) You need competent, cold blooded, agenda less professionals doing it. During the Bush administration we had grotesque incompetents calling the shots and the guys doing the dirty work were probably in revenge or sadist mode. This combo was a contributing factor that led us into the Iraq tar pit.

2) As other have said, torture has huge negatives that usually outweigh what info it provides.

3) All your other tools should be used before torture. During the Bush administration we were constantly told that AQ was going to hit us hard at home, so we had to do all sorts of nasty things. If that was the case, we should have been focusing on border and internal security much, much more closely.

Hunsdon said...

Nick Diaz said: 8,000 calories is nothing.

Hunsdon said: Sr. Diaz, thank you for your contribution. I was on the verge of adding 'unreservedly' after the 'you' until I reached the end. As it was, it was as if a fine meal was spoiled by a truly foul dessert course.

If you are, as you say, vastly more intelligent than we, shouldn't an element of noblesse oblige creep into your manner?

BB said...

Since the first half hour of the film consists of a CIA Ph.D. abusing an Al-Qaeda accountant while Jessica Chastain’s heroine looks on, does this mean that torture is effective? Beats me.

It probably turns Bigelow on!

Anonymous said...

http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/111312/zero-dark-thirty-review-old-fashioned-revenge-movie

http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/111285/add-these-your-netflix-queue-films-you-should-have-seen-year

http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/111648/django-unchained-all-talk-nothing-say

Anonymous said...

Yes yes we all have read Radosh's book. The answer is basically no. Paleocons are desperate for feathers in their hat and they tend to think that they not the media were responsible for torture becoming unpopular (how I'm not sure) so torture has to remain a hate subject. It really almost wonderful to watch Larison over at TAC act like he alone is responsible for Hagel maybe getting confirm. So after more than 8 years of constant squwaking the paleocons have achieved the unprecedented feat of getting someone who voted for the Iraq War a seat in a democratic cabinet.

Derek Brown said...

The problem is that the current paleos did like the Cold War a lot. The first ten minutes of Pat's culture speech is a hymn to Reagan's victory over the Communist including heads up paleos praise for "driving the Red Army out of Afghanistan." No obviously they are right that the people driving American foreign policy has changed but the thing about who/whom is that when you start off as the who and them become the whom complaing about it is just sour grapes.

I think the paleos are right about just about everything domestically but the way they are willing to abandon America's world power because they don't like how the neo cons now hold the reins is regrettable. As is their ever oscillating pose of realism to critique the democracy abroad campaign (which is a good critique) and then idealism on things like torture and drones.

Anonymous said...

It seems Tarry's emphasis on bloodsplatter in Django Unchained has deemphasized the moral component of the story in favor of sadism of maiming and killing.

It's not about the need to kill bad people but the orgasmic joy of killing people, in which case badness serves as a handy excuse.

Anonymous said...

I think of torture as what Edward II got or didn't.

The torture we use seems anemic.

I would give into the low level stuff.

goatweed

Anonymous said...

So who are all these elite Seals fighting, anyway? Tribesmen in third world countries, underfed with little training and hardly any equipment. It's the Taliban who have the guts, going up against helicopter gunships, jets, drones, tanks, the whole shebang.
Americans celebrate themselves endlessly but in reality only attack the weak. The third world Vietnamese took them on and forced them to get out. The mighty Panamanians were conquered so that's a great victory. When they moved in on the Germans in 44 they were already depleted and a spent force. Since then it's just been wars in underdeveloped third world countries. It's all just a form of national narcissism, a Rambo fantasy.
The Germans had an elite, motivated fighting force, the Waffen SS, yet towards the end even they had dwindled down to nothing. Elite troops die like anybody else. Americans prefer opponents with limited a capability of fighting back.

NOTA said...

I don't have (or want) any expertise on the effectiveness od torture, but the comments I've read from people entitled to an opinion is that a major cost of using torture is that it generates a lot of false leads and false confessions, because people will say anything to avoid otr stop the pain, even temporarily. Even though you'd like to test their statements against known facts, often you don't have those facts immediately available, and sometimes, they can't be checked.

It seems to me there's a bigger problem, though. If you keep torturing me till I tell you something you already know is true, I think you will eventually get some known truth out of me, even if I start out not knowing it.

"Where's the body hidded?"

"In the river."

*Smack* Liar! Where is it?

"In my basement."

*Pow* Liar! Where is it?

"In the woods."

"Okay, which woods?"

You can hill-climb into having an innocent person tell you every fact the interrogator knows about the crime. Indeed, videotaped police interrogations, with no torture allowed, have sometimes shown police slipping up and mentioning details of the case they thought were secret, and then getting them back from the suspect. (My guess is that the real reason the CIA videotaped the interrogations was partly to check for this.)

I think this can lead to a truly wicked kind of confirmation bias. Suppose you know some stuff that isn't so. It would be easy to find your wrong assumptions confirmed, because you keep beating on people till they confirm them. Even if you're trying to get the truth, it's easy to imagine how this could convince you of something that isn't true.

Anonymous said...

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2013/01/paul-thomas-andersons-the-master-opens-in-france.html

pat said...

I hate these discussions because I'm advanced and everyone else is so retarded.

By that I mean, I have a Home Theater. My viewing experience is better than those who still go to movie theaters. But it is delayed by several months.

For example I saw Avatar again last night. My 3D and sound are better than all but a handful of commercial theaters. My seats are better too. Everyone will watch movies this way in the near future. The signs of that change are all around us. But for now if a new movie comes out that merits a discussion in the blogosphere, I'm at a considerable disadvantage.

For example, people are discussing the movie "Lincoln" whereas I can only discuss "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". Not quite the same thing.

That having been said, without having seen this OBL movie, I still think it's likely to be defective in terms of historical accuracy. I like so many others wonder about the official narrative in this particular action.

One thing that everyone knew for certain before the Seal Team action was that Barrack Obama was "soft" on Islam - at the very least. In the Fort Hood incident his people went to extraordinary lengths to keep the Muslim connection covered up. This cover is still underweigh. Most Americans find this at least perplexing.

Then there was the absolutely incredible case of the Obama Administration announcing that they wanted to redirect NASA's mission from space exploration to promoting sympathy for Islam.

Obama had instituted a number of policies that looked favorable to Muslims including announcing unilateral withdrawals and his praise for the Muslim Brotherhood.

But then when he had to run for office suddenly there was this Seal Team raid. The Seals did their thing and suddenly Obama was running as the man who "got" Osama.

The raid became a centerpiece of the presidential campaign. Obama was painted as the guy who could strike back against the dirty rag heads. The whole thing looked like a campaign stunt. Still does.

I have no inside information and I don't expect to ever really know, but I'm among those who suspect that there is more to be revealed. At that point most people will have forgotten this movie and it won't matter that I saw it late.

Albertosaurus

TomV said...

Nick Diaz,

Volksverhetzer was talking about absorption (hence the word "absorb"), not consumption, smart guy.

The yield on each glucose molecule catabolized is about 34%, and not every food molecule is catabolized.

Anonymous said...

JINGO UNCHAINED.

Anonymous said...

How come there was no revenge attack for USS Liberty?

Anonymous said...

There's some diversity in special operations these days.

With SEALs in Afghanistan, there have been ethnic guys who have died. A Korean guy and a Laotian guy.

Green berets are about 5% black.

Anonymous said...

Does torture work or not? It will work with me. I can't stand extreme pain.

Anonymous said...

Do you think the neocons would approve torturing Jonathan Pollard?

Anonymous said...

Americans prefer opponents with limited a capability of fighting back.

What are you, someone who fights for the orgasmic joy of it? WWII wasn't our war, and we probably shouldn't have gotten involved in Europe. That we got involved at all is Britain's and Russia's good fortune - we helped keep their body counts down. Same thing in Vietnam. We jumped in there after the French decided it was too much work, and the locals weren't up to taking up the slack. I don't understand the fascination with single combat - should our cops operate singly and engage in one-on-one combat with criminals? There's this strange idea of how other people should tie their hands in accomplishing their missions, as if this is all one big game, as opposed to a thankless chore where you try to return with all your limbs intact.

Anonymous said...

You can hill-climb into having an innocent person tell you every fact the interrogator knows about the crime. Indeed, videotaped police interrogations, with no torture allowed, have sometimes shown police slipping up and mentioning details of the case they thought were secret, and then getting them back from the suspect. (My guess is that the real reason the CIA videotaped the interrogations was partly to check for this.)

But interrogators in terror cases don't want something they already know - they're not looking for confessions that wouldn't hold up in court. They want something they don't already know. Torture can extract false confessions. But nobody wants a confession of unknown veracity from a terrorist - what interrogators want is previously unknown information, such as the location of arms caches, terrorist hide-outs and so on. And you can't really fake that kind of stuff.

Anonymous said...

"Remind me again why we even have a Dark Enlightenment."

I'm so against that term. Those who use it accept the left's framing of conservatism as evil. The first time that this term came up here, I dug up some HBD-aware quotes from Voltaire's Candide and Diderot's encyclopedia. If you accept the reality of race and gender differences, then you're a lot closer to actual Enlightenment thinkers than to modern conventional wisdom.

And it's leftism that's evil. Think of a world-wide idiocracy, of the death of civilization, its disappearance forever. Furthering THAT is evil. Lying is evil. There's a lot of lying in leftism. Think about the horrors of AIDS, ultimately brought about by leftism.

HBD and race realism are much better terms. Gender realism doesn't sound bad.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 1:10 pm said: Do you think the neocons would approve torturing Jonathan Pollard?

Hunsdon replied: Bwa ha ha!

Anonymous said...

Do you think the neocons would approve torturing Jonathan Pollard?

Why would anyone torture Pollard? We have enough on him that he's serving a life term in a supermax prison. The guy was handing over our stuff to the Israelis, and we know what files he took. Of course, you could sign a petition volunteering to torture him for kicks. You never know - it might be the start of a popular outcry...

James Kabala said...

"WWII GI's routinely tortured prisoners for info."

Could we have some more information on this claim?

Anonymous said...

"Could we have some more information on this claim?"

This is based on exchanges with conservatives on various forums, who mentioned the beatings administered to recalcitrant POWs by their fathers who were serving. This was not very different from the kinds of things that used to be applied to the usual suspects by cops during interrogation stateside.

The beatings inflicted upon Nazis for confessions during war crimes trials is better-known. But that's the kind of stuff that's easy to document, since the war had ended, and everybody involved survived.

Whereas many of the protagonists who did these things during lulls in combat either kept their own counsel or died in the course of the war. It's obviously nothing you want to boast about, especially since you could be brought up on charges.

Anonymous said...

To me this movie is nothing but a huge marketing campaign for the military. The seals almost look like hipsters. I'm sure Obama sent his own advisors to the set to make sure they got the propaganda just right.

Marlowe said...

Anon. said: When they moved in on the Germans in 44 they were already depleted and a spent force. Since then it's just been wars in underdeveloped third world countries. It's all just a form of national narcissism, a Rambo fantasy.
The Germans had an elite, motivated fighting force, the Waffen SS, yet towards the end even they had dwindled down to nothing.


The Waffen SS still had forces on the ground in Normandy and the Ardennes to confront the Allies after D-day. SS regiments played a crucial part in preventing the success of Operation Market Garden. US forces did fight against genuinely tough, well-equipped enemies during WWII. The Red Chinese in Korea also proved formidable opponents and the North Vietnamese possessed a airforce (which shot down quite a few US aircraft) and had tanks & artillery.

Post Vietnam (which the US did not lose in a military sense - the NVA suffered several major defeats after the media vaunted Tet offensive of 1968) it did engage softer targets such as Grenada, Nicaragua, Libya or Panama and arguably Hussein's Iraq (the 1991 war took place after Iraq had fought a WWI style conflict with Iran for 8 years leaving its military exhausted and the treasury bare and the second war followed 12 years of crippling economic sanctions.)

Anonymous said...

"This is based on exchanges with conservatives on various forums, who mentioned the beatings administered to recalcitrant POWs by their fathers who were serving. "

Well, if anonymous conservatives on the Internet report that their dads beat up mean ol' Nazis...

http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/18900000/This-looks-legit-random-18905775-760-506.jpg

Marc B said...

I've met several special forces guys and they tend toward the tall, lean and muscular with impressive muscle recruitment and not big and beefy linebacker types. I like Bigelow's work in general, but this movie seems like an attempt by the current administration to consolidate some sort of official story in the public's mind after several conflicting accounts were released to the press in the "fog of war" following the mission. If photos of Saddam's body were fair game than why not release the death photo of the biggest boogie man of the late 20th and early 21st century? The whole thing stinks of spin and propaganda.

Anonymous said...

"Well, if anonymous conservatives on the Internet report that their dads beat up mean ol' Nazis..."


http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2007/oct/25/cruel-allied-occupiers/

Anonymous said...

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/feb/07/disturbing-misleading-zero-dark-thirty/

Anonymous said...

Well, if anonymous conservatives on the Internet report that their dads beat up mean ol' Nazis...

They did not beat up Nazis. They slapped around German POW's who did not tell them what units they were fighting, how many troops were in front of them, where they were located, what weapons, ammo and fuel they had - the kind of operational intelligence you need to increase your chances of survival in a war where cripples like Dan Inouye and Bob Dole were the lucky ones.

As to the torture of Nazis in preparation for war crimes trials, it's not some kind of big secret. Do a few Google searches and you'll find any number of mentions on mainstream websites.

People take the Geneva Conventions to be Holy Writ and cringe at the mention of torture. In reality, people do what they have to do to stay alive. And I don't blame them.

Anonymous said...

"They did not beat up Nazis."

I read in New York Review of Books that over 3000 German prisoners suffered permanent genital damage cuz they were kicked so often there.

The article said that in many cases, the prisoners were often beaten up/tortured as possible communist spies.

Anonymous said...

"Almost all the commandos are depicted as beefy, bearded, and visually interchangeable."

I couldn't tell who was who in BLACKHAWKDOWN either.

Anonymous said...

I read in New York Review of Books that over 3000 German prisoners suffered permanent genital damage cuz they were kicked so often there.

The article said that in many cases, the prisoners were often beaten up/tortured as possible communist spies.


My points were (1) not all POW's were Nazis, (2) GI's slapped around POW's who were captured on the front lines for information to improve the odds of keeping themselves alive and (3) the situation in point 2 was distinct from stomping Nazis - in the postwar era - for confessions to be used as the basis for convictions in war crimes trials.

James Kabala said...

"It's obviously nothing you want to boast about, especially since you could be brought up on charges."

I wouldn't be surprised if some of this stuff did happen, but this admission that the activity was unauthorized and potentially punishable is different from the original implication that no one was opposed to torture before the sixties (unless you are a different anonymous - I wish people would use consistent pseudonyms).

Anonymous said...

They did not beat up Nazis. They slapped around German POW's who did not tell them what units they were fighting, how many troops were in front of them, where they were located, what weapons, ammo and fuel they had - the kind of operational intelligence you need to increase your chances of survival in a war where cripples like Dan Inouye and Bob Dole were the lucky ones.


Machine-gunning Nazi's (or even people they mistook for Nazis) as they struggled in the water was not uncommon. Do some reading on the Cap Arcona - it's the sort of thing which was prosecuted as a war crime if the other side did it.

Anonymous said...

Do some reading on the Cap Arcona - it's the sort of thing which was prosecuted as a war crime if the other side did it.

I don't think there's any problem with hypocrisy. The Germans were treated with kid gloves, considering the kinds of things they did. Besides, we just needed a fig leaf* to impose victor's justice and what we did to them was a fraction of what they would have done to us if they had won. Note that this isn't a moral argument or an excuse. I'm just saying no one gives a damn, and that all things considered, they got off easy.

* I would have preferred Churchill's solution of just shooting the Nazi leadership without trial. The war crimes imbroglio just created all kinds of problems for us down the road.

Anonymous said...

A friend's late father was a survivor of the Shoe Leather Express Death March, when 6,000 Allied prisoners were sent from Stalag Luft IV in Poland to Germany to prevent their liberation by the advancing Russians. About 1,300 of them died in the 600-mile march during the dead of winter. He always said that the loss of a tooth to a sadistic German guard was a small price to pay for his survival.

There's torture, and then there's torture. It's going to happen no matter how many conventions they hold in Geneva.