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Professor Pam Saunders Explores ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Torture Debate in Huffington Post Essay

January 14, 2013

Controversy surrounding the hunt for Osama bin Laden as portrayed in the film “Zero Dark Thirty,” is largely misplaced, Professor Pammela Quinn Saunders argues in an essay published in the Huffington Post on Jan. 13.

The film has sparked an outcry for its depiction of waterboarding, with critics claiming the movie inaccurately glorifies torture and credits it for the location of bin Laden by the CIA.

Saunders said, however, that the film “is far more ambivalent about torture” than the critics acknowledge, and that it aims to explore shifting views of complex moral issues that have emerged in the American psyche in the aftermath of 9/11.

“By depicting the possibility that torture may sometimes be necessary -- a view that was held and acted upon by at least some administration officials at the time -- the film suggests deeper and more difficult questions,” Saunders wrote. “What if they were right, and it was necessary? Was it worth the toll that it has taken on us? And, where do we go from here?”

A former State Department lawyer, Saunders is an expert on transnational legal issues, including the enforcement of legal rules and norms.