Leading members of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees have slammed Zero Dark Thirty as “grossly inaccurate and misleading” in a letter to Sony Pictures Entertainment today and asked for an on-screen clarification of the facts.
“We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty,” Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) wrote to studio chairman and CEO Michael Lynton. “We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden.”
“We understand that the film is fiction, but it opens with the words ‘based on first-hand accounts of actual events’ and there has been significant media coverage of CIA’s cooperation with the screenwriters.”
The senators note that the film “depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees and then credits these detainees with providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the Usama Bin Laden.”
“Regardless of what message the filmmakers intended to convey, the movie clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier for Usama Bin Laden. We have reviewed CIA records and know that this is incorrect,” the senators wrote. “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 Usama Bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film’s fictional narrative.”
Noting that they appreciate the role of motion pictures in American culture, Feinstein, McCain, and Levin said this movie “has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner.”
“The use of torture in the fight against terrorism did severe damage to America’s values and standing that cannot be justified or expunged. It remains a stain on our national conscience,” they added. “We cannot afford to go back to these dark times, and with the release of Zero Dark Thirty, the filmmakers and your production studio are perpetuating the myth that torture is effective. You have a social and moral obligation to get the facts right.”