Did ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ filmmakers have secret links to CIA? U.S. Senate vows to find out

Did ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ filmmakers have secret links to CIA? U.S. Senate vows to find out

By Xan Brooks, The Guardian
Thursday, January 3, 2013 8:00 EST

Screen Shot from official Zero Dark Thirty trailer

US Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate whether film-makers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal had access to classified material

The controversy surrounding the fact-based terrorist drama Zero Dark Thirty looks set to continue as the US senate intelligence committee launched an investigation into the relationship between the film’s makers and CIA officials. The committee will probe whether Zero Dark Thirty’s director and writer were granted “inappropriate access” to classified material.

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow and scripted by Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty charts the nine-year hunt for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and climaxes in the successful raid on Bin Laden’s compound in May 2011. CIA officials have admitted briefing the film-makers on the project but insist that the finished picture is “a dramatisation” as opposed to a historical record.


Reuters reports that internal documents, released in response to a freedom-of-information request, already show that Michael Morell – the CIA’s then deputy director and now acting chief – met with the film-makers. A Pentagon email also claims that Mark Boal was briefed by the CIA “with the full knowledge and full approval/support” of Leon Panetta, the former CIA director and subsequently US secretary of defence.

The senate investigation will be headed by Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein who last month joined two other senators in lambasting Zero Dark Thirty’s depiction of torture. Feinstein, Carl Levin and John McCain claim that the film is “grossly inaccurate” in its suggestion that coercive interrogation tactics were instrumental in gathering information about Bin Laden’s whereabouts.

The CIA has yet to comment on the senate investigation. In a statement released last month, Morell insisted that Zero Dark Thirty was “a dramatisation, not a realistic portrayal of the facts”.

Morell did, however, appear to concede that the film implied that “enhanced interrogation techniques”, including waterboarding, played a role in gathering information ahead of the successful May 2011 raid. “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,” he said.

© Guardian News and Media 2013

Watch the official trailer for Zero Dark Thirty below:


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