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Zero Dark Thirty: Senate Intelligence Committee demands information about CIA and filmmakers contacts


The US Senate Intelligence Committee has demanded more information about contacts between the CIA and the makers of Osama Bin Laden film Zero Dark Thirty.

Kathryn Bigelow’s film is a dramatized account of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the 2011 mission which killed him.

In a letter to Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, three senators said the film-makers could have been misled by information provided by the CIA.

The film has been nominated for four Golden Globes and is one of the Oscars favorites.

Ahead of the US elections, Kathryn Bigelow’s film was accused of being a propaganda tool intended to assist President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

The US release of the film was subsequently put back until after November’s election.

The lawmakers have requested to see a copy of all the documents given to the film-makers by the CIA.

The letter, co-signed by Senate Intelligence Committee members Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin and former presidential candidate John McCain, expressed concern over the “clear implication” in the film that extreme interrogation techniques had played a key role in locating Osama Bin Laden.

“Given the CIA’s cooperation with the film-makers and the narrative’s consistency with past public mis-statements by former senior CIA officials, the film-makers could have been misled by information they were provided by the CIA,” the letter says.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee has demanded more information about contacts between the CIA and the makers of Osama Bin Laden film Zero Dark Thirty 350x213 photo

The US Senate Intelligence Committee has demanded more information about contacts between the CIA and the makers of Osama Bin Laden film Zero Dark Thirty

The letter adds that the film’s narrative conflicts with official statements that the CIA did not first learn about an Osama Bin Laden courier through a CIA detainee who had been subjected to “coercive interrogation techniques”.

It also said that, according to a separate Senate review, the most accurate information about the courier had been provided by a CIA detainee prior to any harsh interrogation.

The three US senators also wrote to the head of Sony Pictures Entertainment shortly before Christmas saying the film was “inaccurate”.

The senators claimed that Zero Dark Thirty “clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier” for Osama Bin Laden, who would unknowingly lead the agency to his compound in Pakistan.

Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal – who won Oscars in 2010 for The Hurt Locker – said last month the film depicted “a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods”.

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.”

On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the Committee had begun an examination of records charting contacts between intelligence officials and Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal.

Reuters said the committee would also assess “whether CIA personnel are responsible for the portrayal of harsh interrogation practices, and in particular the suggestion that they were effective”.

A spokesperson for Sony told The Hollywood Reporter: “As the studio distributing Zero Dark Thirty in the United States, we are proud of this important film. Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal and their creative team have made an extraordinary motion picture and we fully support bringing this remarkable story to the screen.”

The film’s title is a military term for half-past midnight, the local time at which Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was raided by US Navy Seals.

Zero Dark Thirty opens across the US on January 11 and is also considered a likely Oscar contender.

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