The Los Angeles Times’ Patrick Goldstein sits down with retired CIA agent Milton Bearden, technical adviser to “The Good Shepherd” and a 30-year veteran of clandestine services. Among other things, Bearden hooked director Robert DeNiro up with ex-KGB agents in Moscow so he could gather their tales of Cold War skullduggery. But Bearden also comments on the film’s accuracy, in that it features a scene where a Soviet defector is being tortured by the CIA. It’s hard not to think of the present day debate over waterboarding of suspects.
Says Bearden: “If you mean ‘Did we ever beat the [crap] out of someone till they jumped out the window?’ I’d have to say ‘No,’ Torture is just [bull]. It’s used by people who want an admission for their checklist. It doesn’t elicit real information. When agency people who’ve seen the film say, ‘Hey, that’s not accurate, we never water-boarded anybody,’ I tell them, ‘No, you just stuck a [expletive] defector in a solitary cinderblock for 3 1/2 years.’ We may not have water-boarded guys in 1957, but we’re doing it all the time now, so I don’t think it’s a dishonest portrayal at all.”