facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

CIA mislead filmmakers on torture in 'Zero Dark Thirty,' Senators say

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Jan. 4, 2013 at 2:53 PM   |   Comments

http://cdnph.upi.com/sv/em/i/UPI-1211357317938/2013/1/13573297317882/CIA-mislead-filmmakers-on-torture-in-Zero-Dark-Thirty-Senators-say.jpg
Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Senators who hammered Zero Dark Thirty over its portrayal of torture are now turning their sights on the CIA, openly wondering if the intelligence agency mislead the filmmakers on what actually happened in the lead up to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, and John McCain released two letters sent to acting CIA Director Michael Morell asking tough questions about the agency's involvement with the filmmaking, seeking information on whether director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal could have been mislead by information provided by the CIA.

The Senators, all members of the Intelligence Committee, are concerned that a scene showing an al-Qaeda operative getting waterboarded and then ultimately providing critical information, portrays torture as effective. They asked the CIA to release the exact documents provided to filmmakers that would have led to the allegedly fictional scene.

"Given the CIA's cooperation with the filmmakers and the narrative's consistency with past public misstatements by former senior CIA officials, filmmakers could have been mislead by information they were provided by the CIA," the letter reads.

Those same senators previously wrote to Sony Pictures Chairman Michael Lynton, claiming the film was "grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden."

Bigelow and Boal released a statement defending their portrayal of coercive measures in the film.

"We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden;" they said. "The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes."

The filmmakers also went onto ABC's Nightline and claimed they never received any classified information from the intelligence community or the Obama administration.

The two letters sent to CIA Director Morell are as follows:

December 19, 2012

Mr. Michael Morell
Acting Director
Central Intelligence Agency

Dear Acting Director Morell,

We are writing to request information and documents related to the CIA’s cooperation with the makers of the film, Zero Dark Thirty. We are concerned by the film’s clear implication that information obtained during or after the use of the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques played a critical role in locating Usama Bin Laden (UBL).

As you know, the film depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees. The film then credits CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques as providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the UBL compound. While this information is incorrect, it is consistent with public statements made by former Director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, Jose Rodriguez, and former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

The CIA cannot be held accountable for how the Agency and its activities are portrayed in film, but we are nonetheless concerned, given the CIA’s cooperation with the filmmakers and the narrative’s consistency with past public misstatements by former senior CIA officials, that the filmmakers could have been misled by information they were provided by the CIA.

In an unclassified letter you provided to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on May 31, 2012, you wrote that the CIA engaged with the filmmakers “to ensure an appropriate portrayal of the Agency’s mission as well as the dedication of the men and women of the CIA who played a key part in the success of that mission.” The film opens with the words “based on first-hand accounts of actual events,” and according to now publicly released CIA records, the filmmakers met extensively with CIA personnel. Specifically, one publicly released email notes that the filmmakers met with you for forty minutes, during which you provided “substance again.” Another publicly released CIA email states that “As a [sic] Agency, we’ve been pretty forward-leaning with [the filmmaker], and he’s agreed to share scripts and details about the movie with us so we’re absolutely comfortable with what he will be showing.”

Pursuant to the Committee’s recently-adopted Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program, Committee staff reviewed more than 6 million pages of CIA records. Based on that review, and with prior notification to the CIA, Chairman Dianne Feinstein and Senator Carl Levin released the following findings on April 30, 2012, regarding the UBL operation:

- The CIA did not first learn about the existence of the UBL courier from CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques. Nor did the CIA discover the courier’s identity from CIA detainees subjected to coercive techniques. No CIA detainee reported on the courier’s full name or specific whereabouts, and no detainee identified the compound in which UBL was hidden. Instead, the CIA learned of the existence of the courier, his true name, and location through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program.

- Information to support the UBL operation was obtained from a wide variety of intelligence sources and methods. CIA officers and their colleagues throughout the Intelligence Community sifted through massive amounts of information, identified possible leads, tracked them down, and made considered judgments based on all of the available intelligence.

- The CIA detainee who provided the most accurate information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.
In addition to the information above, former CIA Director Panetta wrote Senator McCain in May 2011, stating:

“…no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means.”

Given the discrepancy between the facts above and what is depicted in the film, previous misstatements by retired CIA officials, as well as what appears to be the CIA’s unprecedented cooperation with the filmmakers, we request that you provide the Committee with all information and documents provided to the filmmakers by CIA officials, former officials, or contractors, including talking points prepared for use in those meetings. Furthermore, we request copies of all relevant records discussing the cooperation between CIA officials, former officials, or contractors and the filmmakers, including records of the meetings that occurred, notes, internal emails, Sametime communications, and other documentation describing CIA interactions with the filmmakers.

Thank you for your assistance on this matter.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
Chairman
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Carl Levin
Chairman
Senate Armed Services Committee
Ex-Officio Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

John McCain
Ranking Member
Senate Armed Services Committee
Ex-Officio Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

December 31, 2012

Mr. Michael Morell
Acting Director
Central Intelligence Agency

Dear Acting Director Morell:

In your December 21, 2012, statement to CIA employees regarding the film, Zero Dark Thirty, you state that “the film creates the strong impression that enhanced interrogation techniques” were “the key to finding Bin Ladin” and that this impression “is false.” However, you went on to refer to multiple streams of intelligence that led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Ladin was hiding in Abbottabad and stated that “Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well. And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved.”

In our previous letter of December 18, 2012, we made several points based on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program that are potentially inconsistent with your press release. Principal among those points was that “The CIA detainee who provided the most accurate information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.”

Accordingly, we would ask that you provide the following to the Committee:

1. In regards to the Bin Laden operation, what information was acquired from CIA detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques? When was this information provided: prior to, during, or after the detainee was subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques? If after, how long after? Please note whether such information corroborated information previously known to the CIA.

2. Please provide specific examples of information that was obtained in a “timely and effective” way from CIA detainees subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques? When was this information provided: prior to, during, or after the detainee was subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques? If after, how long after? Please note whether such information corroborated information previously known to the CIA.

Thank you for your assistance on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
Chairman
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Carl Levin
Chairman
Senate Armed Services Committee
Ex-Officio Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

John McCain
Ranking Member
Senate Armed Services Committee
Ex-Officio Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

###

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Most Popular
1
Why the fake braces trend may be dangerous for users Why the fake braces trend may be dangerous for users
2
Jared Leto 'stopped eating' for his 'Dallas Buyer's Club' role Jared Leto 'stopped eating' for his 'Dallas Buyer's Club' role
3
Gisele Bundchen, Tom Brady drop $14M on Manhattan home Gisele Bundchen, Tom Brady drop $14M on Manhattan home
4
Kelly LeBrock arrested for DUI Kelly LeBrock arrested for DUI
5
Brandi Brandt faces drug charges in Australia Brandi Brandt faces drug charges in Australia
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback