Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jake Gyllenhaal sounds off on the treatment of terror suspects

Some people wonder if we’ll ever have another president who was an actor. The late President Ronald Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild and California governor before moving on to the White House. Obviously, California actor-turned governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is currently ineligible since he was born in Austria. There are also the actors out there like Warren Beatty who, though politically active, have never been elected to public office. Other actors have run for office. The late Noble Willingham (who co-starred in Walker, Texas Ranger) ran unsuccessfully in Texas for public office in his latter years.

And then there are the many in Hollywood that you hope never run for office—unless it’s to provide the public with comic relief.

Take Jake Gyllenhaal, for example. Out to promote his latest movie, Rendition, Gyllenhaal was telling reporters that torture is wrong. One has to wonder if he’s merely using a political discussion to promote his film. Or maybe Gyl simply doesn't realize just how complicated the world is, and that getting things done means rolling up your sleeves.

The film, which also stars Meryl Streep and Reese Witherspoon, is about renditions, or the practice of transferring suspects of terrorism to other countries where they could be abused or tortured. Keep in mind that this is a movie and that, such as the case in most cases, may not accurately represent real life.

Gyllenhall plays a CIA analyst who finds himself skeptical of the American government’s allowing of rendition. At the Rome Film Festival news conference, Gyllenhaal said this: “[The movie says] that torture is wrong. I think you can see in the film that it does not work.”

The Associated Press further quotes Gyllenhaal: “But I also think it presents the political side of it, too, which is saying that you could be torturing one innocent man, but at the same time 5,000 people are alive ... because of information that the government elicited through (extraordinary) rendition.”

Thanks for clearing that up, Jake. I like that line about how we can see in the film that torture doesn’t work. Well, that’s more due to the efforts of the screenplay writer, director and actors than it is real life, isn’t it? I wonder what Jake would propose to do if we captured a terrorist who had top-secret information regarding Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts. Obviously, such a terrorist would not talk, so extreme measures would have to be taken.

I think torture should be used in two circumstances only: when you have a prisoner/suspect who obviously knows something critical to our nation’s security and when either conventional methods of extraction have failed or if time is of the essence. If we can’t get physical, what does Jake propose we do instead? Force feed them pork? Make them watch that cinematic great of Great Satan filmmakers: Brokeback Mountain?

There are Hollywood celebrities from both ends of the political spectrum who show an ability to intelligently speak on the issues. I don’t see Jake Gyllenhaal as one of them.

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