Life: Not like the movies
I was thinking about this amazing piece by Pratap Chatterjee on how the CIA has seen too many Jason Bourne movies and has adopted the derring-do and bravado tactics that work so well in the movies but, in real life, turn out to make a mess. One thinks of the person who sees in a movie the tablecloth trick—whisking a tablecloth away from a fully set table, disturbing nothing—and decides to show his family at Thanksgiving dinner, only to discover that movies hide the effort, the practice, and the failed attempts and show only the shot that came out perfectly. In real life, things are different, as Chatterjee shows. Instead of Jason Bourne, think of Inspector Clouseau, only not funny.
And the piece, which I blogged earlier, is really worth reading in its recitation of how would-be Jason Bournes and James Bonds fare in real life: poorly. He doesn’t even mention the CIA’s kidnapping and torture of a totally innocent German citizen (Khalid El-Masri), apparently thinking they had Khalid Al-Masri. Or the entire CIA team that kidnapped the Egyptian cleric in Italy and were then tried and convicted of the kidnapping (in abstentia). The messy story, so unlike a movie, is described by an agent who was part of the team.
And in the post just blogged, car-jack victim Edward Bell fired on his own car as it was being driven away by an assailant. In the movies, depending on the rating, he would have shot out a tire and stopped the car, or wounded the driver and stopped the car, or (for R-rated) shot the driver through the back of the head. But it wasn’t a move, and Bell instead killed 69-year-old Geraldine Jackson inside her house. Movie shootings and stunts are choreographed and follow the plot and if a mistake is made, the scene is reshot until it is done right. Jackie Chan once did 2900 takes before the scene was done right. (In life, you get one take and have to carry on from there.)
So the CIA needs to rethink its programs and tactics. Read Chatterjee’s piece and see if you don’t agree.