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Zero Dark Thirty: CIA Director wades into accuracy debate

Zero Dark Thirty

Story by Jack Foley

THE acting director of the CIA has entered the dispute surrounding the accuracy of Oscar-tipped movie Zero Dark Thirty.

In a letter posted on the CIA’s public website on Friday afternoon (December 21, 2012), Michael Morell looked to address concerns raised by three US senators that the film was inacurrate in its depiction of the use of torture in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

Confirming that the CIA had been invited to co-operate in the film, Morell stated: “What I want you to know is that Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts.

“[The] CIA interacted with the filmmakers through our Office of Public Affairs but, as is true with any entertainment project with which we interact, we do not control the final product.”

Crucially, the letter adds: “Zero Dark Thirty takes significant artistic license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate.”

Morell went on to assert that torture did not play a role in the locating and killing of Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda kingpin and co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks on America.

“The film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were the key to finding Bin Laden. That impression is false.

“(I)mportantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from… detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved.”

Morell’s unexpected decision to speak out will lend wait to the argument being posed by the trio of senior senators – comprised of Diane Feinstein, former presidential candidate John McCain and Carl Levin – that Sony Pictures, which is distributing Zero Dark Thirty in America, should attach a disclaimer to the film.

McCain has since gone one step further, appearing on CNN to suggest that the film could be harmful to the US.

“We are in a long ideological struggle with the forces of radical Islam. This gives them all kinds of ammunition when they have a movie that shows that we are torturing people,” he added.

McCain, who was tortured himself while a prisoner of the North Vietnamese, pointed out that the US torture of Bin Laden lieutenant Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, who is now credited with being the actual master mind of the 9/11 attacks, had resulted in false information being derived.

“The moral of the story is torture does not work. It is hateful. It is harmful, incredibly harmful to the United States of America. To somehow make people believe that it was responsible for the elimination of Osama bin Laden is, in my view, unacceptable.”

The makes of Zero Dark Thirty have yet to respond to the latest letters, but in response to the senators’ original comments, Bigelow said in a counter-statement that her film depicts “a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods”.

Both she and screenwriter Mark Boal also insist that no single method was responsible in the successful manhunt for the terrorist leader.

To view the full contents of the CIA letter click here

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