Alex Gibney's Zero Days enters the dark world of cyber war

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      A documentary by Alex Gibney. In English, Hebrew, Farsi, and German, with English subtitles. Rating unavailable.

      The title Zero Days refers to vulnerable spots in computer systems, generally exploited by hackers before being noticed by anyone behind the system.

      This latest effort from Alex Gibney (Going Clear, The Armstrong Lie) was made before the current swing off the map of reason for the United States.

      No matter who’s currently in charge, however, the two-hour movie makes it disturbingly clear that our dependence on wired communication and integrated controls has left the whole planet vulnerable to countless manipulations—some intentional and many more subject to the law of unintended consequences.

      The movie’s main focus is the so-called Stuxnet virus, which was focused by the USA and Israel on Iran’s nuclear program in 2010 but spread worldwide soon enough to catch the attention of young computer detectives Eric Chien and Liam O’Murchu, who gradually put the tale together.

      Once the digital bread crumbs (many uncovered by Edward Snowden) led back to certain, um, agencies, it proved surprisingly easy for the well-connected Gibney to get intelligence chiefs from the U.S., Israel, Germany, and France to talk on camera, cagily, about this sort of cyber war and the uncontainable threat it represents. Prominent among them is former CIA honcho Michael Hayden, who warns that anything we can do to them can easily be done to us.

      Elsewhere, an unnamed, pixel-obscured female agent worries that the lack of transparency behind black ops like Olympic Games (as computer spies actually called the Stuxnet thingy) could leave us in perpetual darkness—perhaps literally, given the accessibility of regional power grids.

      In this regard, Barack Obama, enlarging George W. Bush’s spy agenda and waging his own war against whistleblowers, does not emerge looking very enlightened. The movie makes us wonder if anyone will ever be fully in charge of anything again, and if we even want that anymore.