SEAL Team Six, Bin Laden Op & Movie Censorship, Part 1
SEAL Team Six, Movies & Censorship–My Struggle
As my readers are doubtless aware, doing what I do is an almost constant balancing act. One misstep, and somebody gets hurt, one way or another. “Hurt ” isn't bruised feelings, either. Think in terms of life changing unpleasant-fatal events, for one or many. Enter censorship–and my struggle.
I personally loathe and detest censorship, for it's conceptually abhorrent and well do I know where it leads; how easy it is to keep extending it via ever more elastic “justifications.” To call it a slippery slope doesn't even come close to what goes on. But most of my readers haven't a clue as to how really isolated from the truth they're kept. Many are aware the news (see ex-CNN Emmy Award winning reporter Amber Lyon's interview below) is very carefully shaped, with stories promoted and others suppressed, but fewer realize the same thing's being done with their movies and their TV programs. In truth, it's been going on a long time, as seen in the purported murder of Jessica Savitch and Connie Chung's memorable oops.
Anyone who doubts the latter is invited to look at the complete turnaround in the historic general negative portrayal of the CIA on TV and the enormous Agency positive presence these days. This is because the CIA woke up organizationally and deliberately set about recrafting its television image. Anyone who watches the hit series “Covert Affairs” is watching a brilliantly engineered CIA sanctioned depiction of the exciting life and lifestyle of a newly fledged CIA officer, the hot, svelte, yet somehow all-American girl next door named Annie Walker. Beautiful women, handsome men, designer clothes (and shoes her cover job would never afford), high tech, fabulous locations, intrigue, danger and life balancing in the face of the endless demands of the Mission and politics. Even a somewhat credible depiction of a wounded warrior blinded in Iraq, but gamely fighting on anyway, supported by remarkable assistive technology I don't pretend to fathom. Something for everyone. And forget 007's iconic Walther PPK. Annie Walker has one of these, so wild in appearance I thought I was hallucinating when I first saw it.
Then, there's that other spy show, “Burn Notice, ” the “must watch” show for spooks and those who wish they were. While much grittier, again, the Agency is cast in the good guy role, with the protagonist positioned as the recurring victim of traitors, rogue Agency elements, foreign spooks and, currently, a rabid by-the-book CIA team leader, for whom the endlessly resourceful (lightyears beyond MacGyver) Michael Westen is Moby Dick to her Captain Ahab. But the fundamental problem is never the Agency itself. Just like narco trafficking is always done by CIA rogue elements. Pay no attention to the CIA planeload of cocaine (3.3 tons in a Gulfstream II) that crashed in the Yucatan, or the DC-9 that also crashed in Mexico (5.5 tons) or this tac nuke (tactical nuclear weapon) of a report from a former DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agent. This video is also irrelevant, in the Agency's public position.
And before both of the above hits debuted came “Chuck,” which managed to make both the CIA and the ultra secretive NSA (National Security Agency) look good.
So, now you know at least some of the difference between what's portrayed and what actually goes on. Considering I very nearly joined the CIA in the mid 1980s as a case officer (spy recruiter and handler) trainee, I'm very grateful I got so bogged down in the 2″ thick stack of application paperwork that I didn't have it done in time and had meanwhile decided the work, while important, wasn't worth a nervous breakdown or worse. Otherwise, I might be running drugs or guns myself. In the alternative, I might be wrecking the life of someone like today's me!
While a long digression from what I really want to discuss here, I feel it provides a valuable context in which to evaluate what follows. Next, I'm going to show how security concerns are handled in both fictional and “based on fact” military themed films. For purposes of this analysis, I'll consider the blockbuster military techno-thriller “The Hunt for Red October” about a huge defecting Russian boomer (ballistic missile submarine) and the current, delayed in release “Zero Dark Thirty,” which covered the official long hunt for Bin Laden, the painful path to authorization and the SEAL Team Six strike to kill Bin Laden. I saw the latter film on Saturday, January 12, 2013 and watched it with a keen, appraising eye.
In Part 2, I'll discuss what I saw. This'll be done after establishing a context as to what's already been done on both TV and in a blockbuster Hollywood film. From there, I'll discuss the censorship (exclusively revealed here) “Zero Dark Thirty” underwent between its planned pre-election release and when it came out. I'll discuss the explosive planned revelations, the stakes associated with such revelations and what was actually presented. I'll close by explaining recent events from the SEALs' perspective and then present my thoughts on the censoring of this film.
(End Part 1)