‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Controversy Continues: C.I.A. Director Weighs In

Zero Dark Thirty Controversy, CIA Comment

Kathryn Bigelow

certainly has no shortage of press this week. Just as her film Zero Dark Thirty hits theaters, a debate regarding the film’s depiction of torture as a means of hunting down Osama Bin Laden has ignited, and now, acting C.I.A. director Mike Morell is adding fuel to that fire, releasing a memo to his employees and to the public laying out the issues he finds with Bigelow’s latest release.

Adding to comments made earlier this week, Morell states in his letter that “the film takes significant artistic license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate.” He goes on to make clear that the C.I.A. is aware that while they were part of the conversations that led to the film’s creation, they do not have license to control the final product. However, Morell makes sure to point out what he sees as egregious inaccuracies in the film, including what he says is a depiction of the investigation which hints that efforts to capture Bin Laden were made by only a few individuals instead of the whole of the C.I.A. and that “enhanced interrogation techniques” were the key method of obtaining information on the Al-Qaeda leader.

Morell’s comments add strength to complaints publicized earlier this week. On Wednesday, three senior U.S. senators (Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, and John McCain) sent a letter to Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton purporting that the studio’s film was “grossly inaccurate and misleading.”

Bigelow and her collaborator Mark Boal released a statement in response to the senators earlier this week as well, defending the content of the film:This was a 10-year intelligence operation brought to the screen in a two-and-a-half-hour film. We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden. 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. One thing is clear: the single greatest factor in finding the world’s most dangerous man was the hard work and dedication of the intelligence professionals who spent years working on this global effort. We encourage people to see the film before characterizing it.Of course, as they say, all press is good press, so perhaps all this chatter – no matter how negative – will bolster the film’s performance in the box office this weekend.

Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler

[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]


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