Zero Dark Thirty

ZeroDarkThirty2012PosterZero Dark Thirty is such a great movie from all aspects: smart script, good acting, smooth and intriguing editing, beautifully done production. All in all a good story well told. It is *the* movie that showed off excellent directing. What a shame Kathryn didn’t get the Oscar Best Director nomination. She won that award fair and square for 2012 in my book.

On our way back from the theater. I started speculating the future of “Maya” (the main CIA investigator who spent 10 years finding Bin Laden). ZM thought she would lead a quiet life after this. Because she has fulfilled her mission in life, even though she is still so young. I disagreed, for someone that brilliant and focused, how could she avoid doing more great things even if she wanted to? ZM reasoned that for something this big to succeed, there were lots of luck involved. It is unlikely she would get this lucky again.

Maybe ZM is right.

We watched the movie on a Saturday. I spent the remainder of the weekend researching on the characters and events covered and not covered in the movie. Found a couple of interesting things that weren’t in the movie.

1. Biden
Among all the materials the CIA uncovered in the Bin Laden house. They discovered directive of assassination of David Petraeus and Obama during any of their visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, “US Vice-President Joe Biden should not be a target according to bin Laden, because ‘Biden is totally unprepared for that post [of president], which will lead the US into a crisis.’“.

During the final meetings between Obama and his cabinet prior to the Navy Seal raid, the only member that’s against the raid was Biden.

2. Contingency Plan
The worst outcome of the raid was for Pakistan to capture any member of the Navy Seal team. The original plan was that “Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen would call Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and try to negotiate their release”. But Obama doesn’t like the uncertainty of the plan. So he gave the order that the SEALs should be equipped such that they can fight their way out if need to. “To bolster the ‘fight your way out’ scenario, Chinook helicopters with additional troops would be positioned nearby. ”

So basically when “Maya” was writing angry “number of days” of inaction on her boss’ wall every day, Obama and his team were busy debating and evaluating options, planning for all possibilities.

3. Secrecy
It was amazing that it took the US 192 days to act after “Maya” found the house. What was even more amazing was the secret didn’t leak One main reason was the US didn’t share it with any other country (especially not Pakistan, who “would leak this in a nanosecond”). They kept this close to their chest.

The Pakistani military was largely equipped by the US。 The only fighter jets that Pakistani had were from the US and were stationed in a US base per US request, so the US would know Pakistani’ every move.

It was amazing how well everything turned out at the end. Luck, indeed, was on Maya’s side.