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Did anyone read Joker his Miranda rights?

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Joker If you're one of the 22 million or so people who saw "The Dark Knight" this weekend, you probably noticed that the movie had some Serious Themes alongside the bombs, slick stunts, and brilliant performances. (And if you haven't read seen it yet, don't read on, and consider this your spoiler alert.) Sure, "Iron Man" had brown guys being blown up to a hard rock soundtrack, and American arms killing Americans. And at least the editorial board thought "The Hulk" could be considered an allegory for the war on drugs.

But Christopher Nolan's latest addition to the Batman canon is the most explicit and thought-provoking with its post-9/11-ness, starting with bursting skyscrapers in its first few minutes and at various points taking up torture (I think the sound of ringing steel is still in my head from Batman's slamming Joker's head onto a table), surveillance (complete with heavy-handed speechifying on privacy by Lucius Fox) and even directly calling the Joker a terrorist a handful of times (he does nearly knife privacy advocate and one-time anthrax target Sen. Patrick Leahy, who has a cameo).

What do the pundits have to say? Wired's Scott Brown and Brian Raftery IM about it:

Waldorf75: Do you think the telecom company that issued batman all those cellphone numbers will be pardoned?
Statler76: Ah, yes. Batman is also the NSA. Lest we forget this particular Bat Fantasy is Culturally Relevant.
Waldorf75: I bet Alberto Gonzales watched this and thought, "Oh, so THAT's how you do it -- just blow the equipment up afterward!"
Waldorf75: He also thought, "I can make either the 11:30 or the 2:40 show, as I really don't have much else to do."

Slate's Dana Stevens didn't mind the inclusion of the themes:

A colleague with whom I saw the movie felt that Nolan's use of 9/11 references was exploitive, that he was tapping into our deep cultural anxiety about terror just to spice up his blockbuster. After a second viewing, I vigorously disagree. The use of 9/11 would be exploitive only if Nolan didn't care about thinking through 9/11 for its own sake, as he clearly does.... The Nolans' closing vision of the state of Gotham City — a pessimistic landscape of corruption, chaos, and fear — may not be to every viewer's taste. But at least it's a vision, one that, as Sept. 11 draws near again, looks disturbingly familiar.

The New York Times' ed board said it's the summer superhero flick we deserve:

So, what is the movie’s attitude to this Bush Administration-style approach to combatting terrorism?

In some ways, it seems sympathetic. The domestic-spying system that Batman sets up is helpful to him in his campaign against the Joker. The torture elicits (somewhat) useful information....

Mainly, though, the movie seems to paint it all in moral grays — like almost everything else in this Gotham City. This latest Batman is not exactly a hero — he is someone who fights evil while, in many ways, bearing an uncanny resemblance to it.

Societies get the heroes they deserve.

But Jeff Dawson has the most thorough run-down, pointing out that superheros have always faced American enemies du jour, and that Frank Miller even proposed two years ago that Batman take on Al Qaeda. And of course, disaster or superhero movies that have been set in New York since 9/11 have all taken their lumps for being too callous or cavalier, too freed from context (including last year's big summer hit, "Spiderman 3"). But the Gotham-set "Dark Knight" relishes its context without hamming it up (too much). It's safely in the realm of metaphor, even if it's a none-too-obscure one.

*Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

 

Comments () | Archives (26)

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Joshua Hoe

Hello,

There is NO doubt that Nolan's Dark Knight was allegory for the War On Terror.

First, the NSA-like surveillance....Nolan seemed to side with most philosophers in concluding that privacy can be trumped when there is a "ticking time bomb" but any use of such powers should be specific and non-enduring.

Second, the situation with the two boats is a take on the terrorists taking over the planes on 9-11. Nolan is saying that what happened on the planes proves that people are BETTER than many expect and will often do things that are good EVEN when they are the ones that will suffer as a result of the choice to do good. This seems the real theme of the movie - personal sacrifice and community in the face of disasters. This is a dark movie but with a very optomistic outlook on human nature.

Third, what people seem to miss on the torture thing is it did not work....He was unable to save either Rachel OR really save Dent. A juxtoposition of that failure and his voice over statement that some "deserve to have their faith fufilled" as Morgan Freeman types his name into the NSA-like surveillance grid of computers seems to suggest that Nolan is saying that the harsh tools can fail and should be seriously limited.

Anyway, I agree this was a movie that worked at a much deeper level,

Josh

robert Beck

If there is a moment in the Dark Night that illuminates and enlightens us on the parallels and complexities we, as a nation, share with this movie, it would have to be the two ferries in the Gotham harbor.

How many of us, I wonder, sat and pondered the question "Who will push the button?". How many of us do not feel the same sense of helplessness and horror, in our own lives, those passengers exhibited. It was not by thier design or choice to become pawns, to be made examples of, in a game that no one wins.

Just as we find ourselves in a life where choices are most often made for us by others, by powers great than hours, by those who niether know or care for or about us, here too are the citizens of Gotham trying to make a best choice when there are no real choices but to wait and hope, pray, for someone somewhere else to make the right choice, a better choice, not even available to them.

Are our lives now really so much different from the citizens of Gotham? Perhaps there is a moral to this movie. Perhaps it is time the right choice, the better choice is once again an option for all not just the few.

Lonecia Coffman

Of course the term terrorist is going to be exploited. Movies always try to connect the story to the times.

However, despite Heath Ledger's stellar performance as the Joker, and despite a good story and good performances by the rest of the cast, the movie had one big flaw, other than being horrendously long, that spoiled my enjoyment.

The flaw is that with the threats to hospitals and government officials, and all the other way-over-the-top mayhem, even for a comic book story, I would have expected the city to crack down with Martial Law. At the very least the FBI, CIA, NSA, and Homeland Security, would have been swarming like locusts. Homeland Security was actually referred to in the movie.

Because of this looming flaw, I was unable to maintain my suspension of disbelief. If not for the cast of characters interactions that brought the story back into focus, the movie would have been a total wash.

ThatsSoAwesome

9/11 was an inside job. Most of Hollywood knows that already.

EL

I think you people take this movie and yourselves way too seriously. Geez, it's only a frickin' movie.

Lucas

Enough already.. this is not NY.. this is Gotham City, leave the boring-political-critic and enjoy the movie for crying out loud, Im not saying you should be sceptic about politics, but if you are not able to just it down and just have fun with a motion picture, wich, by the way, is entirely fictional, then you are bound to have a very sad existence.

notafan

I found it hard to enjoy the Dark Knight.
The themes circle around 9/11 and America's reaction to that horror with the deliberate aim of obscuring any genuine examination of why these things happened.
They cast the terrorist joker as beyond comprehension-simply evil and revelling in his evil.
Al Quada are not evil. They are enemies, ideologically and culturally opposed to us on fundamental isses. They are willing to kill and be killed and have very few scruples.
The impulse to declare ememies as insane or evil speaks of American weakness...

Huh?

So you explained a couple parts of the movie, referenced three other sources without an explanation of relevance to your title, said the words "9/11," "torture," and "surveillance" a few times. Wow. Super-villains can be considered a metaphor for terrorists? That's really interesting. A contemporary movie innocuously made reference to today's terrorist and security interested society? Amazing.

I don't know how this "op-ed" got past any kind of review system, but I didn't get any kind of opinion or editorial commentary out of it. The title made me think that you were going to attack the concept of vigilantism, or at least the public's ostensible support for it (in the marketplace of ideas, this Dark Knight idea made a ton of money). Maybe propose a little public acknowledgment or the value of rule of law? No. You wound up saying, "It's a pretty decent metaphor."

Thanks for not being interesting at all.

Alexis

Honestly, I thought it was a WONDERFUL movie. The messages were very thought-provoking ( I'm still thinking about the themes). However, my absolute favorite theme was how not everything is fair. So many people believe that things are either right or wrong, black and white, but thats absolutely not true. For instance, Batman was considered a hero until his failure to turn himself into the joker caused several people to die. People suddenly became losing faith and hope in him. He's STILL a hero because he WAS trying to fight the villain, yet unfortunately there were lives lost. Basically, the world is not printed on paper in just black and white, but there are shades of grey and we must understand that. It was a moving movie for me.. especially when the man on the civilian boat volunteered to press the button, but he didn't have the heart to do so. Did anyone think of the death penalty at all during that scene? How, we, the civilians have the power to kill those in jail? For some reason, during that boat scene, i was thinking about the real justice in the death penalty... just a thought :)

Dan

Those "Serious Themes" are important to the film and important to the genre. Many ethical questions arose in this film.There was unlimited access to the cell phones of Gotham City, the amount of information to release to the public to provide notice while avoiding a panic, and the choices that a number of the characters make regarding personal sacrifice in the face of a relentless enemy. Batman's status as a vigilante frees him from many ethical as well as legal restraints, but not all. His enemy has the advantage because he has none of those restraints. There may be parallels with terrorism, but this conundrum is a staple of many heroic stories (for example, James Bond's opponents, Magneto vs. the X-men, Batman vs Ras Al Ghul). Often the sacrifice requires compromises of one's ethics, but in an imaginary or real setting, victory over a merciless enemy without some loss would defy even the most liberal suspension of disbelief.

Sophie

How could Joker be a "terrorist?" He's not Muslim. That racist Islam-basher Frank Miller would agree.

think for yourself

My thoughts on this are really irrelevant because certain people will chose to ignore, read, skip, or respond irrationally and harshly to what I say...

but for anyone who saw this movie let me use an eerie quote that certainly is a subliminal context that was ringing in my ears after I left the movie theatre,

"Why--so--serious?"

This is a movie--
and we live in a time where the sheerest forms of entertainment to keep us blind sighted from the world around us are so substantial and so trivial and "meaningful"...

The only thing worth believing in that entire movie were the things that Heath Ledger's character had to say to Dent when his true character began to show himself.

It's atrocious that you people can sit here and critique a movie and compare it to the Bush regime and the antics on the psychosomatic bullshit that our media feeds you about terrorists and still glorifying the deaths of those from 9/11.

Let them rest in peace.
and unless you were directly victimized from that situation-let history be history.

Don't go watch some weekend box office thriller and somehow include your ignorant, pathetic politics into the context of the movie.

Our president is a political puppet. The war on terrorism is obviously pathetic--you don't need to continue to throw that one out there...
Instead of being some liberal cynic why don't you spice up your own life with some free thought and a little bit of anarchism yourself...better yet--don't take things so personally or so seriously.

Grow some and think for yourself. It's mindsets like that that keep horrible governments like ours in control of minds like yours that are so easy to sway.

Batman

the boat thing was a social experiment. the people didn't kill each other proving that sometimes, maybe even most of the time, people really will do the right thing when it comes down to it when they know its for the count.

maybe people should stop looking for hidden correlations to historical events and start looking to the the art for what its actually trying to say:

we live in a world of gray where right and wrong DO exist but what we struggle with is not the concepts but the LINES between the truths that we hold so dear.

think for yourself

My thoughts on this are really irrelevant because certain people will chose to ignore, read, skip, or respond irrationally and harshly to what I say...

but for anyone who saw this movie let me use an eerie quote that certainly is a subliminal context that was ringing in my ears after I left the movie theatre,

"Why--so--serious?"

This is a movie--
and we live in a time where the sheerest forms of entertainment to keep us blind sighted from the world around us are so substantial and so trivial and "meaningful"...

The only thing worth believing in that entire movie were the terrifyingly true things that Heath Ledger's obviously socially horrible character had to say to socially acceptable, good ol' boy Harvey Dent when his true character began to show himself (that in the end was totally glorified in here--let me stoop to the original "journalists" mindest--an almost Hitler-esque type way [only in reference to his blown up, photoshopped, cheesy picture at his funeral kind of way]).

It's atrocious that you people can sit here and critique a movie and compare it to the Bush regime and the antics on the psychosomatic crap that our media feeds you about terrorists and still glorifying the deaths of those from 9/11 (because it's all part of the Bandwagon patriot act since the turn on, tune in, drop out mindset of the 50's and gluing into the tube and indirectly the current politics) to continuously keep you pissed and ready to kill some biologically similar humans, raised on different ethics in the same concepts as ours, in an extremist situation across the ocean. Every religious group has an extremist mindset! you don't think "our" war on terror isn't Bush' own personal jihad? Look at the facts! What country did we originally invade, and to get whom? Was it Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, or Sadam Hussein?! or was it Afghanistan? Iran? or Iraq? and what was the original intentions of the war? The 20-100 people who attacked the US? Trying to find Osama? Liberating people from Al-Qaeda? Ending Sadam's ruthless dictatorship? or was it all just something to divert our attention and to ultimately make it okay to raise gas prices so that our country is bled dry and lives are lost and billions of dollars in debt could surface that our government continues to give out in student loans (so that one day you people won't get your social security that keeps going up from afes 50, 55, 62, 65, 72, 75, 80, etc!)....

the point is...

Let the 9/11 victims rest in peace.
and unless you were directly victimized from that situation-let history be history and quit horrifying the people who are still trying to cope with their losses--focus on CURRENT HISTORY IN THE MAKING--if you could bring any of those people who were MURDERED back to life I'm sure the last thing they would want is for an entire country to sit around angry and do absolutely nothing productive about their deaths. and The last thing they would want is a bunch of angry movie goers reminding their families how much their lives have changed since this horrible event happened...and how they can't go a day without being reminded of it because our country is full of a bunch of hot headed yankees who refuse to do their research (9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB duh... if you know anything about demolition and know where to find certain media clips aside from those on cnn fox or whatever is included in the basic 1-33 channels of crap you have you would, could, possibly know that watch zeitgeist.com).

Don't go watch some weekend box office thriller and somehow include your ignorant, pathetic, uneducated, spoonfed politics into the context of the movie--not all American's are blundering, text book, tv intellectually retarded beings like most of you are and you put out a bad word for the rest of us decent Americans to all of the other billions of people in the world that AREN'T AMERICANS.

Our president is a political puppet. The war on terrorism is obviously pathetic--you don't need to continue to throw that one out there--we get it! Our economy sucks! Our government sucks! Most of our citizens suck! Let's just continue to fill our lives with stress, angst, and nothingness and be cynical negative nancy-s!
Instead of being some liberal cynic why don't you spice up your own life with some free thought and a little bit of anarchism yourself...better yet--don't take things so personally or so seriously and if this offends you and you do get your panties in a bunch after reading what I have to say why don't you go read some great, aged American literature by our good old friend Henry David Thoreau--start out with Civil Disobedience and then you might not take some 155.34 million dollar, may you like it or not you're still contributing to the directors fortunes, weekend box office movie of the year so seriously..UGH...

Grow some and think for yourself. It's mindsets like that that keep horrible governments like ours in control of minds like yours that are so easy to sway and are ultimately just another waste on the face of our fuel driven, plastic polluted, building metropolis left to ruins, wasteful, now now now now now now now, white picket fence, house in the suberbs, hate nature and what is already good and green and would trade all of the space in the world for that nasty, pungent smelling green paper pathetic world that we live in.

and by the way--
after reading all of these articles in search of some critique or sympathy on THE OBVIOUS IMPACT of a role so large in psychological change in Heath Ledger's existence--
WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO EVEN CARES THAT THIS ROLE TOTALLY DROVE HIM SCHIZO OVER THE EDGE and led him to his death?

Why won't somebody talk about something like that instead of tearing this movie down into the political pits of hades? Or how atrocious it is socially to put that on someone's psychological plate...
and how it's okay for someone to die for a role like that and all you people have to say for this movie is something about the director...
or how relatable this movie is to New York and something that happened almost A DECADE AGO.

good Lordy.

Jack

You people are too analytical. Not everything has to be a direct or blatant reference to something historically significant. It was used to show the people breaking the Joker's hold over them.

Jeff

Hey Batman (no not the Batman, the one that posted something here ; ] ) I completely agree. I hate historicism of art. Art speaks towards many things because it is so universal! Appreciate the message as a whole, not just an allegory.
Anyway, the movie is rather dichotomous in its views on fighting terrorism...er....the Joker. It certainly seems to side with Batman, any time you watch a film you're "supposed" to symapthize with the protaganist, and Batman's use of spying on people does seem necessary.
But it also forces us to live with the consequences (on screen and in real life). It is infantile and idiotic to say that the Patriot Act and other things like it have no merit: they do (as evidenced by a lack of terrorist attacks on America since 9/11). However, there is a huge downside, which is fundamentally, no matter which way you put it, a loss of liberty. Life or liberty? I believe Patrick Henry had an answer to that. Bush has an answer to that as well (not that I'm really comparing the two). And who really knows what the Patriot Act will lead to (a lot of it depends on the next president). The prospects are frightening...but still only prospects (not that really assuages me...either way).
So this is the one theme of many that "The Dark Knight" has. The idea that fighting evil requires us to resemble it, or even become it. What a brilliant movie. Not genius, but brilliant.

Jeff

Oh yes...thinkforyourself, I have a few words for you. Have you ever studied literature before? Ever??? It is preposterous to think that a box office thriller cannot also have its own artistic merits. Art is extremely important to society and humanity's well being. Literature in particular, in fact, plays such a vital role in how we view ourselves (or anything for that matter). Though literature should not be degraded (again for being so universal) to a device for humankind's benefit, it certainly (inevitably) affects the world, just like philosophy. And film is an extension of literature. Don't understimate the power of the book!

midwest, y'all

Just a technical point here on the article's closing reference to movies set in New York:

Although many people, including myself, have long associated Gotham with NYC, the setting for this movie is clearly Chicago, from the Illinois-like license plates to the chase scene, if you will, on the lower level of Wacker Drive and with one vehicle being knocked into the Chicago River. And the El train is all over the first one and the rails are visible enough in this one. They added some computer-generated towers in Batman Begins, certainly, but anyone who's spent any time in downtown Chicago can clearly identify that it's not only shot in Chi-town but modeled after the city in this movie.

Apparently the movie's not alone. One Batman artist said that although he lives in NYC, he models his work after Chicago. And I will say that, despite New York having the Gotham nickname, Batman does lend itself to that gritty Chicago feel.

There's an interesting article about this in the London Free Press: http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/Today/Entertainment/2008/07/22/6227516-sun.html

the rest of us

think for yourself,

Uh, you are an idiot who can't write. Don't presume to know what the rest of us are thinking.

D!ssent

To you people who seem to be bothered by us "over-analytical minds drawing parallels"...get over yourselves. Art is supposed to have different possible interpretations. Why should people only see things one way? For some, it's more "fun" to actually think and find hidden/metaphoric meaning in life instead of just being 1 dimensional...anyone who has a problem with that is most likely just not open-minded or are stuck in a black & white world, ironically enough. It was a dark movie, perhaps too deep for the shallow. Anyways, I enjoyed the movie for what it was, as well as for what it could have meant - "It's not about the money, it's about sending a message."

Venona Papers

Bush is like the Dark Knight Batman, and DemocRATS are like the stupid people that blame him for doing the right thing.

So, the hot news now is Barack Obama.

Obama this, Obama that... Naturally, it is very laudable that the United States may have chosen to look beyond the issue of race and opted for a person purely on the merit of his character. But what will they find?

The usual hot air that Washington politicians seem to have made their own. Mr Obama is no different. We’re just too politically correct to say that the only thing refreshing about him is his colour. So we say he’s “bipartisan”, or he’s a “uniter”.

Whatever happened to leadership and honesty as presidential traits? I happen to believe that the only leader in the West to have these two admirable qualities in droves is the leader of the free world: George W Bush.

Yes, we’ve all heard the Bushisms and laughed at them but do you really think somebody supposedly that thick can make it to the top of the most sophisticated political system the world has ever seen?

No, and that is because Mr Bush is far cleverer than most of his predecessors. He may not have been a Rhodes Scholar, but he has the ability to reach out to his people and read them.

Take the Iraq war for example. OK, so he got us into Iraq in the first place. But for Pete’s sake, he’s the leader of the world’s only superpower. He needs to take decisions, even if sometimes they have nasty consequences - which is far better than we do in Europe, where we enjoy dithering not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself.

Something had to be done about Iraq and our government was all for attacking it too. So let’s not blame G.W. for the war.

And when things did go wrong in Iraq, and there were calls to pull out, Mr Bush just followed his own counsel and doubled his bet with the Surge.

And he was right because Iraq is in a relatively better shape today than it ever was and Al Qa'eda is a shadow of its former self in that country.

This is a man who has the courage of his convictions.

Let’s not forget how Europe does wars.

Usually we wait and wait until the enemy starts attacking, then we let them win a bit, then we fight until we are tired, then we just call the US to come over to clean our mess.

That is what happened in WWI, WWII, and the Balkans.

Bush is just showing us what a bunch of dangerous ditherers we are and we hate him for it. Naturally.

And the Olympics. Bush said right from the beginning that he’s going to the opening ceremony because he saw the whole boycott thing as silly and counterproductive.

Compare that with Sarkozy who has changed his mind twice so far and to Gordon Brown who, well... err.

Not much leadership from Europe here, as usual, just doublespeak. Once again, it is to Bush that we look for leadership.

Bush may not have the slickness of his predecessor, but he is a man you can trust and who prefers to tell it like it is.

This is refreshing, and very scary for us who are used to our politicians always talking grandly about principles and hiding behind political mumbo-speak.

The fact is you guys hate Mr Bush because he is not a hypocrite and you are used to hypocrites as your leaders. We hate what we don’t understand.

Yes, yes, all you bleeding heart liberals are cringing out there. I can just hear you. But the fact is, Mr Bush has had to take some very tough decisions and the world needs people who can not only talk but also act tough and admit mistakes.

Of course you think Mr Obama is going to make a difference, but as I write this, he’s already giving all the signs of somebody who will say anything to get into power only to act in exactly the same way as the Washington clique he aims to replace!

Hating George W. Bush is not only dull and unoriginal, but it shows a complete lack of understanding of the world in which we live in.

You want liberty but you don’t want to defend it... right.

And for those of you who still don’t buy into what I’m saying, look at the Middle East. Bush single-handedly managed to unite the Arabs in their hate for him.

Given how difficult uniting the Arabs is, it takes a special man with special skills to achieve this. He is just the kind of man to bring about peace in that region!


Obama points to Kennedy's 1961 summit with Khrushchev, held without preconditions. But Kennedy's secretary of State, Dean Rusk, advised against the meeting, and Kennedy later declared the talks a disaster. Many historians say that Khrushchev sized up Kennedy as a novice, which emboldened Khrushchev in building the Berlin Wall and in putting missiles in Cuba. Is it wise to hold up the Kennedy/Khrushchev summit as a model?

The Canadians recently agreed to accept 550 tons of yellowcake from Iraq. The Associated Press called it the remaining portion of Saddam Hussein's "nuclear program." David Kay, the weapons hunter, found no stockpiles of WMD, but maintained that Saddam Hussein possessed the intent and capacity to restart his chemical and biological program following the lifting of sanctions. Was President Bush, therefore, correct in saying that Saddam posed a "grave and gathering threat"?

Before you joined the Senate, Obama said that he opposed this war. But he later said that he understood how and why his Senate colleagues voted for the war, that they were "privy" to national security information Obama did not have. He also said the vote must have been "difficult." Obama's nomination opponents Dodd, Biden, Edwards and Clinton -- all in the Senate at the time -- voted for the war. How can he be so certain that had he been in the Senate, he would have voted against the war?

Those who try to whitewash Saddam's record don't dispute this evidence; they just ignore it. So let's review the evidence, all of it on the public record for months or years:

* Abdul Rahman Yasin was the only member of the al Qaeda cell that detonated the 1993 World Trade Center bomb to remain at large in the Clinton years. He fled to Iraq. U.S. forces recently discovered a cache of documents in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, that show that Iraq gave Mr. Yasin both a house and monthly salary.

* Bin Laden met at least eight times with officers of Iraq's Special Security Organization, a secret police agency run by Saddam's son Qusay, and met with officials from Saddam's mukhabarat, its external intelligence service, according to intelligence made public by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was speaking before the United Nations Security Council on February 6, 2003.

* Sudanese intelligence officials told me that their agents had observed meetings between Iraqi intelligence agents and bin Laden starting in 1994, when bin Laden lived in Khartoum.

* Bin Laden met the director of the Iraqi mukhabarat in 1996 in Khartoum, according to Mr. Powell.

* An al Qaeda operative now held by the U.S. confessed that in the mid-1990s, bin Laden had forged an agreement with Saddam's men to cease all terrorist activities against the Iraqi dictator, Mr. Powell told the United Nations.

* In 1999 the Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that Farouk Hijazi, a senior officer in Iraq's mukhabarat, had journeyed deep into the icy mountains near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 1998 to meet with al Qaeda men. Mr. Hijazi is "thought to have offered bin Laden asylum in Iraq," the Guardian reported.

* In October 2000, another Iraqi intelligence operative, Salah Suleiman, was arrested near the Afghan border by Pakistani authorities, according to Jane's Foreign Report, a respected international newsletter. Jane's reported that Suleiman was shuttling between Iraqi intelligence and Ayman al Zawahiri, now al Qaeda's No. 2 man.

(Why are all of those meetings significant? The London Observer reports that FBI investigators cite a captured al Qaeda field manual in Afghanistan, which "emphasizes the value of conducting discussions about pending terrorist attacks face to face, rather than by electronic means.")

* As recently as 2001, Iraq's embassy in Pakistan was used as a "liaison" between the Iraqi dictator and al Qaeda, Mr. Powell told the United Nations.

* Spanish investigators have uncovered documents seized from Yusuf Galan -- who is charged by a Spanish court with being "directly involved with the preparation and planning" of the Sept. 11 attacks -- that show the terrorist was invited to a party at the Iraqi embassy in Madrid. The invitation used his "al Qaeda nom de guerre," London's Independent reports.

* An Iraqi defector to Turkey, known by his cover name as "Abu Mohammed," told Gwynne Roberts of the Sunday Times of London that he saw bin Laden's fighters in camps in Iraq in 1997. At the time, Mohammed was a colonel in Saddam's Fedayeen. He described an encounter at Salman Pak, the training facility southeast of Baghdad. At that vast compound run by Iraqi intelligence, Muslim militants trained to hijack planes with knives -- on a full-size Boeing 707. Col. Mohammed recalls his first visit to Salman Pak this way: "We were met by Colonel Jamil Kamil, the camp manager, and Major Ali Hawas. I noticed that a lot of people were queuing for food. (The major) said to me: 'You'll have nothing to do with these people. They are Osama bin Laden's group and the PKK and Mojahedin-e Khalq.'"

* In 1998, Abbas al-Janabi, a longtime aide to Saddam's son Uday, defected to the West. At the time, he repeatedly told reporters that there was a direct connection between Iraq and al Qaeda.

*The Sunday Times found a Saddam loyalist in a Kurdish prison who claims to have been Dr. Zawahiri's bodyguard during his 1992 visit with Saddam in Baghdad. Dr. Zawahiri was a close associate of bin Laden at the time and was present at the founding of al Qaeda in 1989.

* Following the defeat of the Taliban, almost two dozen bin Laden associates "converged on Baghdad and established a base of operations there," Mr. Powell told the United Nations in February 2003. From their Baghdad base, the secretary said, they supervised the movement of men, materiel and money for al Qaeda's global network.

* In 2001, an al Qaeda member "bragged that the situation in Iraq was 'good,'" according to intelligence made public by Mr. Powell.

* That same year, Saudi Arabian border guards arrested two al Qaeda members entering the kingdom from Iraq.

* Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi oversaw an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, Mr. Powell told the United Nations. His specialty was poisons. Wounded in fighting with U.S. forces, he sought medical treatment in Baghdad in May 2002. When Zarqawi recovered, he restarted a training camp in northern Iraq. Zarqawi's Iraq cell was later tied to the October 2002 murder of Lawrence Foley, an official of the U.S. Agency for International Development, in Amman, Jordan. The captured assassin confessed that he received orders and funds from Zarqawi's cell in Iraq, Mr. Powell said. His accomplice escaped to Iraq.

*Zarqawi met with military chief of al Qaeda, Mohammed Ibrahim Makwai (aka Saif al-Adel) in Iran in February 2003, according to intelligence sources cited by the Washington Post.

* Mohammad Atef, the head of al Qaeda's military wing until the U.S. killed him in Afghanistan in November 2001, told a senior al Qaeda member now in U.S. custody that the terror network needed labs outside of Afghanistan to manufacture chemical weapons, Mr. Powell said. "Where did they go, where did they look?" said the secretary. "They went to Iraq."

* Abu Abdullah al-Iraqi was sent to Iraq by bin Laden to purchase poison gases several times between 1997 and 2000. He called his relationship with Saddam's regime "successful," Mr. Powell told the United Nations.

* Mohamed Mansour Shahab, a smuggler hired by Iraq to transport weapons to bin Laden in Afghanistan, was arrested by anti-Hussein Kurdish forces in May, 2000. He later told his story to American intelligence and a reporter for the New Yorker magazine.

* Documents found among the debris of the Iraqi Intelligence Center show that Baghdad funded the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan terror group led by an Islamist cleric linked to bin Laden. According to a London's Daily Telegraph, the organization offered to recruit "youth to train for the jihad" at a "headquarters for international holy warrior network" to be established in Baghdad.

* Mullah Melan Krekar, ran a terror group (the Ansar al-Islam) linked to both bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Mr. Krekar admitted to a Kurdish newspaper that he met bin Laden in Afghanistan and other senior al Qaeda officials. His acknowledged meetings with bin Laden go back to 1988. When he organized Ansar al Islam in 2001 to conduct suicide attacks on Americans, "three bin Laden operatives showed up with a gift of $300,000 'to undertake jihad,'" Newsday reported. Mr. Krekar is now in custody in the Netherlands. His group operated in portion of northern Iraq loyal to Saddam Hussein -- and attacked independent Kurdish groups hostile to Saddam. A spokesman for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan told a United Press International correspondent that Mr. Krekar's group was funded by "Saddam Hussein's regime in Baghdad."

* After October 2001, hundreds of al Qaeda fighters are believed to have holed up in the Ansar al-Islam's strongholds inside northern Iraq.

Some skeptics dismiss the emerging evidence of a longstanding link between Iraq and al Qaeda by contending that Saddam ran a secular dictatorship hated by Islamists like bin Laden.

In fact, there are plenty of "Stalin-Roosevelt" partnerships between international terrorists and Muslim dictators. Saddam and bin Laden had common enemies, common purposes and interlocking needs. They shared a powerful hate for America and the Saudi royal family. They both saw the Gulf War as a turning point. Saddam suffered a crushing defeat which he had repeatedly vowed to avenge. Bin Laden regards the U.S. as guilty of war crimes against Iraqis and believes that non-Muslims shouldn't have military bases on the holy sands of Arabia. Al Qaeda's avowed goal for the past ten years has been the removal of American forces from Saudi Arabia, where they stood in harm's way solely to contain Saddam.

The most compelling reason for bin Laden to work with Saddam is money. Al Qaeda operatives have testified in federal courts that the terror network was always desperate for cash. Senior employees fought bitterly about the $100 difference in pay between Egyptian and Saudis (the Egyptians made more). One al Qaeda member, who was connected to the 1998 embassy bombings, told a U.S. federal court how bitter he was that bin Laden could not pay for his pregnant wife to see a doctor.

Bin Laden's personal wealth alone simply is not enough to support a profligate global organization. Besides, bin Laden's fortune is probably not as large as some imagine. Informed estimates put bin Laden's pre-Sept. 11, 2001 wealth at perhaps $30 million. $30 million is the budget of a small school district, not a global terror conglomerate. Meanwhile, Forbes estimated Saddam's personal fortune at $2 billion.

So a common enemy, a shared goal and powerful need for cash seem to have forged an alliance between Saddam and bin Laden. CIA Director George Tenet recently told the Senate Intelligence Committee: "Iraq has in the past provided training in document forgery and bomb making to al Qaeda. It also provided training in poisons and gasses to two al Qaeda associates; one of these [al Qaeda] associates characterized the relationship as successful. Mr. Chairman, this information is based on a solid foundation of intelligence. It comes to us from credible and reliable sources. Much of it is corroborated by multiple sources."

The Iraqis, who had the Third World's largest poison-gas operations prior to the Gulf War I, have perfected the technique of making hydrogen-cyanide gas, which the Nazis called Zyklon-B. In the hands of al Qaeda, this would be a fearsome weapon in an enclosed space -- like a suburban mall or subway station.

mark

i think you guys forgot that its not just a few ppl in gotham city that are corrupt. this movie just like the batman begins revolves around mistrust and the dark side in everyone and what they do when they turn to that evil. all the corrupt cops, criminals, gangs...batman wasn't fighting the just the joker, he was fighting the whole city...everyone wanted him off the streets because of fear of the unknown. you even see it in the movie.

David Powell

1. The people who think "9/11 was an inside job" are idiots on the leevl of Holocaust Deniers. Ask anyone who ever rigged anything for demolitions how that could have bene faked with thousands of people there every day, the answer is, no way.

2. Batman shows that the people who end up fighting evil do so at cost of not only personal sacrifice, but quite often being reviled by "society" while they are fighting to save it from those who would kill everyone and destroy that same society. Remember that in their time, Abe Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman all had lots of people who absolutely hated them. there are people who really hate George W. Bush also. The Democrats protest him, but in Congress they don't actualyl do anything... it's just easier for them to let Bush lead the fight against our enemies and then put hate out about him for political gain.

The one who got it right was the columnist that said George W. Bush is Batman.

P.S. The ferries could have been a United Flight 93 reference too. If people know they and others will die if nothing is done, what wouldn't they do to fight back?

Harold Reimann

Saw the movie. Ledger good. Bale not. Broad not goodlooking. Too long. No good music. Too much noise and action. Not enough character development.

Ben Hess

Batman was originally a DARK superhero. A ruthless protector who showed little mercy for the criminals and fought crime without regard for subtleties of the law.
That's our original Batman!

Brandon

"And for those of you who still don’t buy into what I’m saying, look at the Middle East. Bush single-handedly managed to unite the Arabs in their hate for him.

Given how difficult uniting the Arabs is, it takes a special man with special skills to achieve this. He is just the kind of man to bring about peace in that region!"
-----------
What?
I really believe that people don't think things through clearly before they say them...or in this case, blog them.

Look, the only thing this film is a tribute to is great writing, dynamic vision, and the performance of a lifetime given by the late Heath Ledger. Kudos to the Nolan's and to the actors who have completely rejuvenated a long-lost franchise.
This is the type of movie that the Batman franchise has always deserved.


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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