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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 7, 2013/ 27 Shevat, 5773

Torture helped get bin Laden?

By Jonah Goldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Zero Dark Thirty," the film about the hunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden, got a fresh infusion of buzz over the weekend when outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta confirmed again that enhanced interrogation techniques aided the effort to find bin Laden.

"Some of it came from ... interrogation tactics that were used," he said. "But the fact is we put together most of that intelligence without having to resort to that. I think we could have gotten bin Laden without that."

In other words, the movie exaggerates the role played by enhanced interrogation techniques -- torture to some -- but they did have a role in the hunt for bin Laden. But why stop there? Like most films about real events, "Zero Dark Thirty" exaggerates all sorts of things. For starters, the hunt for bin Laden wasn't conducted single-handedly by a very attractive red-haired woman, recruited from high school by the CIA.

The movie also exaggerates how the detainees were treated. To watch the film, torture was used every time a detainee -- pretty much any detainee -- gave a false or partial answer to a question. The interrogators could beat, humiliate and waterboard prisoners on an impulse. In reality, they didn't beat detainees at all.

As former George W. Bush aide Marc Thiessen notes, of the more than 100,000 prisoners in the war on terror, only about 100 were ever held by the CIA and of those, only about a third were subjected to any enhanced interrogation methods. A total of three detainees were waterboarded -- and then only under medical supervision and with written authorization from superiors.

Though the film exaggerates some things, to the dismay of critics on the right (and in the intelligence community), it ignores other issues. For instance, critics on the left fairly complain that the stark cost in Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani innocent lives is never referenced. More relevant, nobody ever raises moral objections to the torture of detainees (in part, because the objectionable treatment doesn't need a monologue for the audience to recognize it).

All these complaints are fair game as far as movie criticism goes. Director Kathryn Bigelow had every right to make whatever movie she wanted. And critics have every right to respond however they want. That said, most of the complaints from the left and the right can be boiled down to the fact that Bigelow didn't make the movie her critics wanted.

In the process, many critics fail to appreciate some of the film's nuance. For instance, many on the left and right tend to see the protagonist as a heroic character. But her single-minded focus on justice -- or revenge, depending on your perspective -- should more properly be seen as a cautionary tale. After bin Laden's death, Maya, the hero, suddenly has nothing to live for and no place to go.

But I'm not looking to write a movie review. The film is newsworthy because of how lawmakers have responded to it. A bipartisan group of legislators, led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is furious that the film "credits these detainees with providing critical lead information." Put bluntly, they believe that Panetta is lying when he says waterboarding provided anything useful. The senators have been badgering the CIA to explain how Bigelow could be so wrong. After all, as McCain often says, "Torture doesn't work."

This is something of a mantra from opponents of waterboarding. One activist lawyer, Jesselyn Radack, wrote on Daily Kos that the film is "revolting -- for its blatant propaganda, glorification of torture and false narrative that torture led to the demise of bin Laden." She wanted the following disclaimer: "Torture does not work and was of no value in finding Osama bin Laden."

Whether waterboarding is torture is probably the most emotionally fraught semantic argument of our lifetimes. Opponents sincerely believe it is torture. Even so, stipulating that it is torture does not suddenly mean that you must also concede it doesn't work. Many in the intelligence community will tell you that the interrogation program yielded crucial information, starting with Panetta, who ran the CIA when we found bin Laden.

Shouting "torture doesn't work" amounts to taking the easy way around the harder argument: that torture might work, but we shouldn't do it anyway, even when American lives are in danger. It's politically unpopular, particularly when waterboarding amounts to the most extreme form of torture.

But that's Panetta's position. He has said that waterboarding is torture and it's wrong. But he has also said that it yielded valuable information we might or might not have gotten some other way. Like it or not, at least Panetta's honest.

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