One doesn't need to be a moralist, or naive about the urgencies of fighting terrorist attacks, to think that torturing a human being is in itself something so profoundly shattering that to depict it neutrally – ie to neutralise this shattering dimension – is already a kind of endorsement.
For Zizek, Bigelow's avowed "neutral" approach to the material can only result in "normalizing" torture for the audience. He attempts a reductio ad absudam on Bigelow, asking whether rape or the Holocaust could or should be portrayed in the same manner. For his sake, one might add such hot-button topics as Stalnist terror or the Chinese Cultural Revolution, but to be fair, while Zizek has sometimes championed revolutionary "terror," he's never said (to my knowledge) that torture should be an integral or desirable part of it. When he argues for the potential necessity of terror, he more likely means simply the need to kill people rather than torturing confessions for show trials out of them. But it's too easy to call a self-styled Leninist a hypocrite for condemning anyone else's politicized violence, and as a Leninist he'd probably dismiss the charge easily enough by contrasting his own with someone else's "bourgeois" morals -- while denying anyone else the prerogative of prioritizing one set of moral imperatives above another. In any event, what I found more interesting, if not more annoying, about Zizek's comments is his rejection of the idea that Bigelow's film is meant to provoke thought about the value and cost of the hunt for bin Laden.
[W]ith torture, one should not "think". A parallel with rape imposes itself here: what if a film were to show a brutal rape in the same neutral way, claiming that one should avoid cheap moralism and start to think about rape in all its complexity? Our guts tell us that there is something terribly wrong here; I would like to live in a society where rape is simply considered unacceptable, so that anyone who argues for it appears an eccentric idiot, not in a society where one has to argue against it. The same goes for torture: a sign of ethical progress is the fact that torture is "dogmatically" rejected as repulsive, without any need for argument.
Zizek simply doesn't care whether viewers leave the film questioning whether bin Laden's death was worth all the effort, including the torture. He won't grant filmmaker or audience the liberty of drawing their own conclusions, demanding an absolutist, knee-jerk response. His attitude contrasts sharply with a filmmaker who's emerged as perhaps Zero Dark Thirty's most unlikely champion. Michael Moore applauds the film in part because he sees it as a refutation of the Bush administration's approach to the War on Terror and a vindication of what he sees as the Obama administration's approach. For Moore, timing is everything. That bin Laden is not tracked down and killed until after Obama becomes President, and after changes in policy regarding "enhanced interrogations" forces Maya and her colleagues to switch their emphasis from torture to detective work.