Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Interrogation--Did I Get it Right or Did Zero Dark Thirty?
So, when I made my first post about Zero Dark Thirty, I hadn't yet seen it. I saw it the day it was released nationwide in theaters and like many others have said, I thought it was INTENSE! I loved the movie. However, I was surprised at the interrogation scenes. I was expecting them, so I was prepared for the harshness. What surprised me was the setting, I guess. I was expecting something more along the lines of a prison cell and then an interrogation room. I guess that was because in reading a transcript from an interrogation that took place at Guantanamo, it was apparent that one took place in a separate room from the cell. There were mentions of the detainee being transferred back to his cell for a brief rest period (about 4 hours in a 24 hour period, if I remember right.).
Of course, like I mentioned before, ZD30 takes place at a black site, so who knows if there are any rules at those sites and if there are, who enforces them?
I'm not debating this politically, I'm looking at it more to see how accurate my own depiction was of an interrogation in my book, No Good Deed. The movie may have taken some creative license and I will claim the same on mine. After all, mine is complete fiction, but like ZD30, I did try to loosely base what happened on my character on some real-life enemy combatants. Because of that, I wanted to get it as close as possible. I didn't have resources like Kathryn Bigelow, so I read what I could and imagined the rest. (That's where creative license comes in! I love it!)
In Zero Dark Thirty, the water-boarding is almost a wrestling match between the interrogator and the detainee. While the detainee has his arms restrained, if I remember correctly, it's by long ropes attached to pulleys on the side. These are raised and lowered depending on where they wanted the detainee. (sitting, standing, lying) So, when they water-boarded, they loosened them enough to allow the man to lie down, but that also meant he was able to flail around. That is one reason that scene was so harsh in the movie. It literally looks like they are going to drown him.
In mine, for the water-boarding, I had Mark Taylor stretched out on a board that's on the ground. The foot of it is raised slightly. I read that details somewhere, but I can't recall where right at the moment. It was also very deliberate and methodical on the part of the interrogators and I made sure a doctor present. (another detail from my research)
I don't know who is right or wrong or if it was done in different ways that neither of us got right. The ZD30 guy had been beaten bloody and the ropes had cut into his wrists. That's another big difference between mine and ZD30. I think the one in ZD30 was more brutal than what I wrote. There is no blood in my depiction. None at all--at least, none that is related to interrogations, no broken bones, and not even any bruising, but yet readers have mentioned in reviews how intense and at times, hard to read it was. I guess sometimes our imagination fills in a lot of the blanks and maybe they imagined more details than I supplied.
Before I wrote the final interrogation in No Good Deed, I had an email exchange with someone whose job it was to question enemy soldiers. He wasn't American, but his country is a close ally. He stressed that talking and trying to gain trust was the most effective method. With that in mind, I tried to do that in this scene from No Good Deed. Interrogation Excerpt from No Good Deed