Senators press CIA for information on 'Zero Dark Thirty'
Osama bin Laden
January 3rd, 2013
09:30 PM ET

Senators press CIA for information on 'Zero Dark Thirty'

By Pam Benson

The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to know exactly what the CIA told the makers of a controversial movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden that might have contributed to the film's suggestion that the harsh interrogation of a suspected terrorist helped find the al Qaeda leader.

A bipartisan group of senior senators said in a statement Thursday that they had written two letters to CIA Acting Director Michael Morell asking for all information and documents the agency provided to the makers of "Zero Dark Thirty." They also want Morell to provide proof for comments he made saying that harsh interrogations played a role in finding bin Laden.

Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin and Republican Sen. John McCain said they are concerned that the CIA may have provided information that might have misled the movie's director Kathryn Bigelow and its writer Mark Boal. Morell and other CIA officers met with the filmmakers shortly after the May 2011 raid.

The movie begins with harrowing scenes that depict a suspected terrorist being interrogated at a secret CIA prison overseas with waterboarding, one of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. The suggestion in the movie is that those coercive techniques aided in identifying the courier who led the CIA to the compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was living.

In the first letter to Morell on December 19, the senators wrote, "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."

They cited a recently released four-year study of the CIA's interrogation and detention program by the Intelligence Committee that concluded that the CIA did not learn about the existence of the courier from any terrorist subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.

The senators asked for the CIA to provide all information that it gave to the filmmakers and all records related to CIA discussions about the cooperation provided to them.

The second letter from the senators is dated December 31 and is in response to a statement about the movie that Morell sent to CIA employees on December 21.

In that statement, Morell acknowledged that enhanced interrogation techniques played a role in finding bin Laden, but he also said they were not as important as the movie implied. "That impression is false," Morell said. There were multiple streams of intelligence, according to Morell. "Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well."

The senators have asked Morell to provide to the Intelligence Committee with specifics about what information was gathered from harsh interrogations that assisted in the bin Laden operation.

When asked about the lawmaker's request, CIA spokesman John Tomczyk said, "As we've said before, we take very seriously our responsibility to keep our oversight committees informed and value our relationship with Congress."

The senators also sent a letter on December 19 to Sony Pictures Entertainment, the distributors of "Zero Dark Thirty," stating the film was "grossly inaccurate and misleading" and calling on the studio to publicly state the movie is not based on fact.

In response to the senators' criticism, Bigelow and Boal said the film condenses 10 years of intelligence work into a 2 ½-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 scent taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the file dramatizes," their statement said.

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. single mom

    If the CIA did give misleading information to someone making a movie, wouldn't that be a good thing? I mean, do we really want our enemies to know (everything the politicians don't already leak) about how our intelligence communities work?

    January 8, 2013 at 10:14 am | Reply
  2. mjtfvbjkuhgf


    January 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  3. mjtfvbjkuhgf


    January 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  4. BillKristolsPolyp-filledAnus

    Anyone who squanders good money on this steaming pile of bullsh!t masquerading as fact deserves to stay mired in poverty.

    Somewhere in the bowels of hell, Joseph Goebbels is smiling.

    January 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  5. Bangash

    Osama was a hero in CIA directed drama for occupation of Afghanistan which although had been succesful in the sense that Afghanistan has been occupied however Afghans as usual proved hard to be subjugated. Last 11 years occupation finaly convinced CIA that it is hard to maintain occupaion therefore last year in May ended it by apperently killing the hero while in fact he was safely shifted to safe location and gave the impression that target has been achieved and thus there is no need to continue with the occupation. It was an excuse for exit from Afghan quagmire. Now whole world understand that Obama and Osama are two faces of same coin therefore no one buy what CIA has been selling. Reportedly Osama is in Montana enjoying the luxuries for his services for CIA.

    January 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  6. BlueAlliance

    John McCain is desperately trying to smear Obama anyway he can. He is so bitter about losing the election in 2008 and harbors resentment and hate toward him. Diane Feinstein wake up and realize you are being manipulated by McCain – he wants blood = Obama's and you are helping him live out his rage. If he can't accuse Obama of some wrongdoing and help smear his legacy this time around, he will 'find' something else! He was successful in taking down Susan Rice in the last attempt – this time it will be Kathryn Bigelow. His hate is all consuming and dangerous.

    January 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      How true that is, BlueAlliance. John McCain's hate knows no end any more than any other Tea Partying fool's does. Unfortunately, in light of all this right-wing mob mentality so prevalent today across the country, this man is bound to get voted in time and again!

      January 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Reply
      • Reality

        Wow. You have acheived a new level of Libtard.

        January 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  7. Seals

    Dear Senators,

    We went in. We killed a towel head. Mission (this time really) Accomplished!

    Seal Team Six.

    January 4, 2013 at 9:25 am | Reply
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA.

      That's more than can be said for Al Capone's men who on Feb. 14, 1929 took part in the St. Valentine's day massacre. None of them ever took any pride in what they did nor did Al Capone! To them, killing was a part of doing business, not something to glorify!!!

      January 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  8. Mark

    McCain is on a witch hunt. These courageous and smart men and women of the Seal team and the CIA put their lives at risk to find and eliminate this terrorist. It was a great achievement and I am glad someone had the courage to make a movie about it. These terrorists might even try to kill Ms. Bigelow...

    January 4, 2013 at 7:04 am | Reply
  9. Marine5484

    I don't think that the C.I.A. needed to torture anyone since they knew where this purported Ossama bin Laden was all the time. What we don't know is whether this was the true Ossama bin Laden or just an impostor who got murdered on May 2 of last year. At any rate, the C.I.A. still has us in the dark over this.

    January 3, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  10. predrag lukic

    haj evribary.plitz story kiler wtc hel pipel kirche lj slo-srek aleksa panic i punac i fater sotan tv slo lj.epis sabac big srbija hag-varten sumpor enterprajz end hel angele ss'.sawa-hítler osama bin ladan snejk soni.?enemi na goda?enemi na usa-nato.domaci eur.

    January 3, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Reply
  11. WSalmon

    In the pic. beloved brother and role mode of all filthy Pakistanis. Such disgusting creatures on this earth.

    January 3, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Thank you, WSalmon. Spoken like a true right-wing, hate filled Tea Partier! It appears that the hate you Tea Partiers harbor knows no end!

      January 3, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Reply
      • Joesph McCarthy

        If their are parties interested in what happened to get the info to take down Bin Laden they don't realise that most Americans are not concerned about who was hurt to find this piece of shvt, what's important is he was found and eliminated. Even now more of his disciples are being hunted down and eliminated, hoorah hoorah hoorah. Like you know, life is like a box of chocolates, you never now what your going to get, or when 🙂

        January 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Judging by his choice of words, anyone with half a brain should know that I never posted that nonsense above! Some Tea Partier is trying to make me look as dumb as he is. Case in point, I never use that nasty Tea Party lingo in any of my posts like this joker did in the one above!

        January 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm |

Leave a Reply to Seals


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.