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Friday, February 1, 2013


“There’s no shame if you want to watch from the monitor,” CIA interrogator Dan (Jason Clarke) tells the fresh recruit Maya (Jessica Chastain) at a CIA black site near the beginning of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. Dan is demonstrating the protocol of his job, using “enhanced interrogation” techniques on an Al Qaeda operative, Ammar (Reda Kateb), in order to get any information on impending attacks. Dan and his masked accomplices exploit Ammar’s feelings of helplessness by having him starved, sleep-deprived, pummeled, stripped, and waterboarded.  But, though she’s initially fazed by what she sees, Maya declines the monitor, and acclimates to the intimacy of the detainee’s subjugation. Eventually, she will be pouring over masses of monitors, reviewing video discs starring naked Muslim men, tied up and hand-cuffed. She will also be in charge of such interrogations, issuing orders for men to be dunked in water, keeping them desperate for life.

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