CIA head: bin Laden film not 'realistic'

Dec. 22, 2012 at 5:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Acting CIA head Michael Morell says "Zero Dark Thirty," about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, leaves a false impression about the use of "enhanced interrogation."

In a letter addressed to CIA employees Friday, Morell said the question of whether so-called enhanced interrogation techniques -- often including waterboarding -- "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."

"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 Ladin," Morrell wrote in the letter, which was posted on the CIA webste. "That impression is false."

Morell said "multiple streams of intelligence" allowed analysts to determine bin Laden was in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Navy SEALs killed the al-Qaida leader in May 2011.

He said "Zero Dark Thirty" -- which has received several award nominations and is considered a likely nominee for a best picture Oscar -- is "a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts."

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain, R-Ariz., said this week in a letter to Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Lynton that scenes of detainees being tortured, in particular, create the implication that torture yielded "critical" information on a courier who, in turn, led to bin Laden.

"'Zero Dark Thirty' is factually inaccurate, and we believe that you have an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film's fictional narrative," the senators wrote.

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