FILMS: Zero Snuff Thirty

Editor’s Note: Below we have the pleasure of presenting Joe Giambrone’s commentary on yet another toxic film (besides ARGO) muddying the waters of history while serving imperial propaganda narratives…and the bottom line, of course. Incidentally, those of you with a discerning eye will note that the statuesque Kathryn Bigelow, the former Mrs. James Cameron, is once again involved in this kind of project.  How does this woman explain her eager participation in such seductive (for the impressionable) warmongering tripe? Or to parapharase Special Counsel for the Army Joseph N. Welch (clearly from another age), have you no decency Ms Bigelow?—PG

With increasing frequency we see Hollywood actioners in their new favored groove, as military thrillers, singing the tunes dictated by the Pentagon and State Department. Imperial cinema, anyone? One of the earliest of this insidious kind was “Top Gun”, which came as close as any film before or since to serve as a blatant recruitment poster.


Zero Dark Thirty is an upcoming December, 2012 American action thriller feature film billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man”. The film is about the special operations forces mission to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. The film is directed and co-produced by Kathryn Bigelow with screenplay by Mark Boal, both associated with The Hurt Locker, another military action thriller that won the Academy Award for Best Picture and five other Oscars in 2009. It stars Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt, James Gandolfini, Joel Edgerton, Edgar Ramirez, and Mark Strong. (WiKi)


Zero Snuff Thirty

by Joe Giambrone

In a time when people dread the next pseudo-political bullshit-fest that Hollywood poops out…
In an age of war, of genetic engineering, of rising fascism, of the propaganda state…
In a world gone mad with terrorism, covert proxy armies, the reign of billionaires, and Kim Kardashian…yet another jingoistic American muscle picture smells like an Oscar.

I’ve long ago given up on Hollywood providing anything in the neighborhood of a “true” story.  I’ve spoken with more than a few screenwriters who feel no obligation toward the actual objective history, or to piecing together what surely happened according to the available data.  Breezily they would prefer to toss out the facts in favor of “story.”  That’s the self-serving claim, anyway.  The reality is that history is always in second position to the “notes” of their superiors, and Hollywood scribes are simply corporate employees.  Any studio executive or producer in the chain can rewrite history at their own whim.  That is the reality of the American movie business, which few would dispute.

Enter Osama Bin Laden (boo, hiss!).  But, the first trailers for the Zero Dark Thirty snuff film actually omitted showing the dark lord bad guy, for some inexplicable reason.  Would he appear as an underdog up against the hyper-charged, well-armed younger Navy Seals?

Very much like the real history provides no actual photographic evidence that bin Laden was even there in Abbottabad, or shot that night, or dumped into the ocean.  In this film, in addition to producers and studio heads, we have the federal government giving notes and purporting to give us the truth (from a demonstrably unreliable source).

Be that as it may, we are certain to get nothing in the way of truth about whom this villain bin Laden actually was, what he did, who he worked for, and with, and what the hell he might actually have had to do – if anything – with the September 11th attacks.  Our glorious hit men are clearly the stars of this tense, gripping, riveting thriller.  Not just good Americans, but the best of the best, these gunslingers ask no questions and go anywhere to silence crucial witnesses who could provide some very damaging trial testimony.

No doubt the Dark Thirty script will provide the he-men no choice, and bin Laden will wield a bazooka while wearing a dirty bomb vest as he cackles maniacally, “Say hello to my little Jihad!  Ha ha ha.”

Maybe not.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Some disturbing subplots, which I don’t expect to find in this patriotic tale of guns and glory—

  • When asked why there was no mention of the 9/11 attacks on Osama Bin Laden’s FBI’s Most Wanted web page [FBI Spokesman Rex Tomb] said, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”
  • Osama bin Laden fought on the same side as the United States in several conflicts including Afghanistan in the 1980’s, Kosovo and Bosnia in the 1990’s.  Reports indicated cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency.
  • The Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) served as the go-between for the US intelligence and the bin Laden network tracing back to the 1980’s.  As bin Laden is alleged to have taken refuge in Pakistan, half a mile from the Pakistani military academy, what was the role of Pakistan’s ISI in protecting him, and who in the US intelligence community knew of this?  Bonus financial subplot – why are we still giving Pakistan billions of our tax dollars and who is trying to stop it?
  • Bin Laden, a prominent Saudi national, maintained ties to Saudi Arabia as well, and the Saudi government was repeatedly implicated in the September 11th attacks, although never prosecuted for an act of war.  What is the relationship between the Saudi royals, the bin Laden network and those in the United States who would cover up these connections?
  • Was bin Laden given the green light to be airlifted out of Kunduz Afghanistan in November of 2001, at a time when the US Air Force could easily have shot down any escaping aircraft?
  • Was Osama bin Laden admitted to a Rawalpindi, Pakistan military hospital for treatment on September 10th, 2001, as reported by CBS?
  • Was Osama bin Laden treated at a United States military hospital in Dubai, UAE, in July of 2001, as reported by French intelligence in Le Figaro?

No.  Of course the Obama administration won’t be providing details to the eager filmmakers about any of that, not one whit.  Obama’s justice department (sic) actually sided with the Saudi royals and against the 9/11 victim’s families in their lawsuit.  Disclosure was thwarted, and the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that the Saudis – whether guilty or not – enjoyed “immunity” from lawsuits by pesky citizens whose families were murdered on September 11th.

Don’t expect true stories from the US federal government, nor from the Hollywood motion picture business.  Put them both together, and surely this must be a comedy, a very dark comedy.

Author and filmmaker Joe Giambrone edits the Political Film Blog, where this commentary appeared.

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The Day Before Mother’s Day, Don’t Tell Other People’s Children To Sign Up for War.

By Pinko the Bear

Michelle Obama, at Commencement in Iowa (2011)

I LIKE YOU MICHELLE OBAMA. You seem like a nice lady, good wife and good mother. By the way Michelle, Happy Mother’s Day. I hope your family shows you a little love and appreciation for all you do. Go ahead and enjoy it, you most likey deserve it. That said, I am spending part of my Mother’s Day responding to your words at the commencement address you gave yesterday at the University of Northern Iowa, and I have a bone to pick with you. A couple of bones, actually. Shall the picking begin?

I think it was very nice of you to take your time to visit them, wish them well in the working world -as if they will be able to find jobs – and to offer some motherly advice. It was sweet of you to recall how you had been received in Iowa just a few years ago while on the campaign trail for you fabulously energizing, charasmatic, hopeful and sincere sounding husband.

“People didn’t know a thing about me, yet they listened. They asked questions. They gave me the benefit of the doubt and a chance to show who I was. And that’s because people here in Iowa understand that everyone has something to offer.”

Yes, we didn’t know anything about you or your husband, really, so we listened. We were interested and then inspired. We were enthralled, enchanted and energized. You say Iowan’s gave you a chance to “show” who you were. Minor point here, but you only “told” us who you were and we were sold. Which brings me to my point. The bone picking part.

You told this graduating class and the other attendees, some 16,000 strong, that the military specialists that killed OBL showed the “very essence” of public service. Hmmm. Really?

I always thought public service meant something much different. My firefighters are public servants. The parks and recreation employees are public servants. EMT’s and ambulance drivers are public servants. The city mangager, city council, the folks at the city water works are public servants. The people who make sure my traffic lights turn red, yellow and green in the correct order, thereby actually keeping us safe, are public servants.

But military folk? Public servants? Perhaps those working in the VA or the Coast Gaurd are rightfully pegged as public servants. But trained killers? Assassination squads? People who sign up to kill foriegners for a steady paycheck, a promise of higher education and lifelong healthcare benefits are public servants? I think not. The only service they are providing is private. They serve private capital only. They serve capitalists only. They serve the well born, the well bred, the well to do and the closely held aggregated wealth of the ruling class. Must we go through an exhaustive review of all the ways the hired muscle has been used? Why don’t we just take a paragraph or two from General Smedley Butler?

“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”

or maybe this one?

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

No Michelle. Hired killers for private enterprise is not the “very essence” of “public service” And before you try to make the laughable argument that these men and women in uniform overseas are “keeping us safe” – oops, you already did – you might want to consider what the internal documents say about the consequences of invading and occupying other countries. These wars do not lead to increased safety at home. These wars lead to the killing of innocent men, women and children abroad. These wars have the complete opposite effect on the aggrieved populations than that which is propagated by progandists, regularly repeated and amply amplified by the fully faithful and completly complacent corporate mega-media conglomerates. Too much alliteration? Let me retry in a pithy sort of way. Killing people abroad creates blowback at home. 9-11 ring a bell? To hear you actually say otherwise shows us who you are. You told us who you were in Iowa a few years ago. Now we see who you are when you say things like this.

“Just imagine, a small group of brave men, dropped by helicopter, half a world away in the dead of night into unknown danger inside the lair of the most wanted man in the world. They did not hesitate, risking everything for us, for our freedom and security. And they did it not just as Navy SEALs. They did it as husbands, as fathers, as sons. Their families were back here, with no idea of their mission or whether their loved one would ever come home.”

I agree they are taking risks. I agree they are husbands, fathers and sons. Wives, mothers and daughters too. Interesting that your speechwriter left them out. I agree their families were back here, with no idea of their mission or whether their loved one would ever come home. But to say that they are doing this for our “freedom and security” is a bald faced lie, propaganda, and you should be ashamed of yourself for saying such a thing.

Were the kids sent to die in Viet Nam fighting for freedom and security? Were the soldiers sent to Central and South America by Reagan securing our freedom and keeping us safe? How about the Phillipines? Cuba? Haiti? Has there ever been a time when the Commander in Chief sent US citizens to risk life and limb in the protection of our freedoms and security? Ok, maybe the War of 1812, when we were actually invaded and attacked here at home by a foreign army. But since then, Michelle? Readers? The question answers itself.

The "Fighting Quaker", Lt. Col. Smedley Butler, USMC, was a soldier and a patriot in the old mould. He devoted the last part of his life to alerting Americans to the military's new mission in the service of business interests.

The last bone to pick is your call to the graduating class to “public service”. Yes. That sounds so very nice. Public Service. Public Servants. Very nice, indeed. Those kids, however, need to be clear on the meaning. As I pointed out above, being a warrior, a paid assasin, is not public service. It serves private corporate interests, needs and profits. Yes, public money is used to pay the troops, but that alone is not enough to qualify them as public servants. The qualifier is not who pays them, but who they are paid to serve. To implore these fresh graduates to explore public service after you had just painted public service as something it is not, is unnaceptable to me. Why didn’t you just tell it to them straight?

Our Empire is creating more and more people that need killin’ and we need your help. You are deeply in debt and have to get a job. There are no decent jobs for you since we have allowed deregulation and outsourcing to decimate the economy here at home. You should consider going to see a recruiter. We need more officers in our Empire as we have plans for even more expansion. The Empire is hiring! You are less free here at home (think Patriot Act) and certainly less secure as unemployed civillians. Well, you will be sorta’ free and sorta’ secure if you agree to work for Uncle Sam as part of the PEP or Peasent Extermination Program. Sign up now! Multi-Nationals need you and you need a job!

Michelle, that would have been the truth. What you gave those kids was pure propaganda. I will never say anything about your efforts to get kids off the couch, excercising or eating healthier foods. But I’ll be damned if I can sit by and say nothing as you prod the young into the service of the Empire. Shame on you for telling other mother’s children such rubbish. Do you not know what the Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870 by Julia Ward Howe said?

Arise then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

“Say firmly: ‘We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be too tender to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own, it says “Disarm! Disarm!” The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.’

“As men have forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his time the sacred impress not of Caesar, but of God.

“In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”

With more truthfulness in the future, there will be more happy mothers on future Mother’s Days!

go here to see the original AP


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