The three senators critical of the portrayal of torture in “Zero Dark Thirty” are now asking the CIA for documents on the cooperation given to the filmmakers but also a clarification from Acting CIA director Michael Morell over his comment that “enhanced interrogation techniques” did yield some valuable information that helped lead to Osama Bin Laden.
“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 CIA officials, that the filmmakers could have been misled by information they were provided by the CIA,” the senators, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), said in a Dec. 19 letter to Morell. They note that one e-mail already disclosed showed Morell met with the filmmakers, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, “for forty minutes, during which you provided ‘substance again.'”
But they also followed up with a Dec. 31 letter, in which they cited Morell’s statement to employees on Dec. 21 that as CIA analysts relied on multiple streams of intelligence to conclude Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad, “Some came from detainees subjected to enhancced techniques, but there were many other sources as well.” They are asking Morell for “specific examples of information that was obtained in a ‘timely and effective’ way from CIA detainees subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.”
“When was this information provided: prior to, during, or after the detainee was subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques?”
They also ask Morell to “please note whether such information corroborated information previously known to the CIA.”
The senators have insisted that, after a Senate Intelligence Committee review of more than 6 million records in an inquiry of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program, enhanced interrogation by the agency did not yield valuable information, like the existence of a courier or the courier’s identity. But Morell’s statement to the CIA employees, while downplaying the role of enhanced interrogation, nevertheless conflicts with the conclusions of the senators.
In noting that the narrative has a “consistency with past public mistatements by former senior CIA officials” and “that the filmmakers could have been misled by information they were provided by” the CIA, the senators cite past public statements by Jose Rodriguez, former director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, and former CIA director Michael Hayden.
Their complete letters to Morell are below.