Martin Bashir | December 20, 2012
>>> clearly the information is that this waterboarding and torture was the major factor in obtaining information about the whereabouts of bin laden .
>> politicians aren't ordinarily thought of as natural film critics but " zero dark thirty " is no ordinary film. that's why three senators, dianne feinstein , karl levine, and john mccain wrote to the head of sony pictures to protest what they call the film's grossly inaccurate and misleading suggestion that torture helped the united states capture and kill the world's most wanted terrorist. joining us now is msnbc contributor jimmy williams and toure , my colleague and the co-host of "the cycle." toure , the director and the screenwriter both say that " zero dark thirty " is not an endorsement of torture. mr. boll also points out the film is not a documentary and shouldn't be judged as such. but isn't that slightly disingenuous given the fact that for something like 38 minutes at the beginning of the film, there are relentless scenes of enhanced interrogation, to use -- for want of a better phrase -- which then a name pops out and he's the guy that leads to bin laden .
>> well, it is disingenuous because the film makes a point of going after authenticity. he say they talked to people who really know what really happened. so they're trying to get this almost documentary-like reality, realism. so to say now, you know, it's not all about that is not honest. and the film i think charts is very realistic course. for about six years we went on this disgusting, gross journey into torture. i'm not going to use the pc term. tog the crap out of people and getting very little information. we do get a name. but they beat somebody up horrifically and in the moment they treat him humanely, give him some tea, give him a chance to rest, then he gives them actionable intelligence, but a tiny bit. only when our nation's operatives, cia operatives and military contractors begins to treat people with more respect, only then do we start to get actionable --
>> but, toure , it's possible to argue that this was a deliberate technique of kindness and, if you like, violence, and it did involve waterboarding, that then did produce the outcome they're seeking. you're saying he only responded to the nice behavior but he might have been responding to an accumulation of those treatments.
>> you can make that point but we know pragmatically over the course of this investigation from kven to when we killed bin laden what made us propel forward is the detective work, treating people with suspect, working sources and not beating the crap out of people which feels good and felt really good after 9/11 but pragmatically it did not work, did not produce information, and it did not make us safer.
>> jimmy, do you agree?
>> not really.
>> tell us why.
>> well, i mean, first of all, this is a drama. it's a movie. set that aside. here is what i do know. i know you nor i nor toure have a top secret security clear frens the cia or from any intelligence agency . what i can't tell you is what i know does and does not bork. i worked in the united states senate for almost seven years and at no time was i ever privy to any of that information nor did i want to be. frankly, listen, do i like torture? no, i think it's probably bad. i think i'd also -- i don't like drones per se but they make america safer. at the end of the day , this is a movie. it's drama. i think all this hullabaloo by these three senators, two of which are democrats, john mccain , an american hero who was tortured, i think it's all a bunch ado about nothing at the end of the day . it's a movie. it's a drama. it was not meant to be a documentary.
>> you're right that it's a movie, but it's supposed to be a record of what happened, but the drone program is not making us safer? we're killing lots and lots of people who had nothing to do --
>> this is called --
>> and what happened in the torture program did not take us safer. it gives al qaeda fodder. it gives them a way to recruit. it confirms that our people when they are captured, they will be treated horribly. it wrecks the soul of america , taints our image around the world. it doesn't get us actionable intelligence.
>> jimmy, i watched the torture scene in this movie, and as jane maier points out, at no point in the film do we see any of the debate or argument about torture that happened within the american intelligence community .
>> that's right.
>> how is that not just simply a whitewash of the issue?
>> well, because it's a movie. again --
>> but, sir, you keep saying that, jimmy, but at the beginning of the movie is says this, this movie is based upon firsthand accounts of actual events. if it's only a movie, then don't put that up as a rider.
>> but i think the movie is saying that -- that's my point. i don't think that -- i go see harry potter movies . that doesn't mean everything in there --
>> stop it, jimmy. harry potter has no place in this conversation. harry potter is a fan tasiccle move.
>> at the end of the day , we're at war with people that killed 3,000 people on 9/11, that killed people in our embassies and in our diplomatic security places. at the end of the day , i don't give a damn how our american government keeps america safer. i just want them to do it and i don't want to know about it. and by the way, i think i'm in the majority of american people pop.
>> do you want us to be safer or feel good beating people up.
>> i don't want to know. i don't want to know what the american reicia is doing. i don't want to know. i just want to be safer. i think a majority of americans --
>> but this doesn't make us safer. nothing makes you a bad american. you're a proud american and you're a friend and you know that i love you, but this does not make us safer. it's similar to the gun debate --
>> toure , can i ask you this. how do you know it doesn't make us safer?
>> having a gun in your home makes you more likely to use that gun on a friend or family member. having a gun makes gun violence more likely to happen in your life. it makes you feel safer but it doesn't make you safer. torture didn't get us actionable intelligence. do you want to feel safer because we're beating up al qaeda in black sights all over the world or do you want to be safer?
>> very quickly, jimmy, last word to you.
>> i think americans don't give a damn how we stay safer as long as we stay safer. doesn't make it right or wrong. i'm not justifying it. i'm just saying i don't want to know.
>> jimmy williams , toure has just said to you that he does give a damn about that issue and there are many americans who do. but both of you are proud americans and i adore you both. thank you.