Movie lies have consequences.† “The China Syndrome” helped halt the growth of nuclear power. “Rambo” convinced Americans Vietnam had secret prisons holding American POWs — a myth that lives on in POW/MIA flags hanging in front of every post office.
And, as I point out in my column today, the guys in the Bush White House who put the CIA torture program together knew nothing about real-life interrogations, but were big fans of “24,” where Jack Bauer tortured bad guys nearly every week.
Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent who interrogated top al Qaida detainees, is especially upset at “Zero Dark Thirty”† for implying that torture helped catch Osama Bin Laden. In today’s Times, he writes:
In fact, torture led us away from Bin Laden. After Mr. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times, he actually played down the importance of the courier who ultimately led us to Bin Laden. Numerous investigations, most recently a 6,300-page classified report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, have reached the same conclusion: enhanced interrogation didnít work. Portraying torture as effective risks misleading the next generation of Americans that one of our governmentís greatest successes came about because of the efficacy of torture. Itís a disservice both to our history and our national security.