CIA official caught up in film controversy

Jan. 7, 2013 at 1:34 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The man who could be the next chief of the CIA may face difficulties because of a Hollywood movie about the search for Osama bin Laden, observers say.

Michael Morell, the acting director of the CIA, was a consultant on the movie "Zero Dark Thirty," which suggests that torture helped the United States find bin Laden, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee want to question Morell, who was on the short list to succeed the resigned David Petraeus, about a Dec. 21 message to CIA employees that "some information" that led to finding Bin Laden was obtained from prisoners "subjected to enhanced techniques."

He said the film took "significant artistic license" with the realities of CIA counter-terrorism intelligence-gathering.

Some officials say they believe the movie could determine how the public understands how the Bin Laden operation was carried out, contending that many people get their knowledge about secret government activities from the entertainment industry.

The movie's torture scenes have been characterized as grossly inaccurate by both critics and supporters with knowledge of CIA operations.

Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan May 1, 2011.

Mark Boal, the film's screenwriter, has responded to the controversy by saying the film is not a documentary.

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