Senators Blast 'Zero Dark Thirty', Claim the Film Is 'Grossly Inaccurate'
Shortly after John McCain publicly criticized Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty (2012)", more senators slam the Osama bin Laden hunt movie by urging Sony Pictures to add a disclaimer to the film. In an open letter written for the studio on Wednesday, December 19, those senators insist that the critically-acclaimed movie starring Jessica Chastain is "grossly inaccurate and misleading."
"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," so they state in the letter which is addressed to Sony's Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton.
They criticized Bigelow's reconstruction of the great manhunt, claiming that the waterboarding scene toward an alleged terrorist as depicted in the film did not lead to the information about OBL's whereabouts in Pakistan. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) claims that the scene is entirely false.
Joined by Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Senate Armed Service Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.), Feinstein write, "We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty." They add, "We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Osama 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 the CIA's cooperation with the screenwriters. As you know, the film graphically depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees and then credits these detainees with providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the Osama 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 Osama Bin Laden," they continue. "We have reviewed CIA records and know that this is incorrect. '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 Osama Bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film's fictional narrative."
The three senators additionally cite an approved 6,000-page report on interrogation tactics by the Senate Intelligence Committee to encourage their argument. They then conclude the letter by writing, "We are fans of many of your movies, and we understand the special role that movies play in our lives, but the fundamental problem is that people who see 'Zero Dark Thirty' will believe that the events it portrays are facts."
"The film therefore has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner," they claim. "Recent public opinion polls suggest that a narrow majority of Americans believe that torture can be justified as an effective form of intelligence gathering. This is false. We know that cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners is an unreliable and highly ineffective means of gathering intelligence..."
"(W)ith 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..."
The "torture scene" issue was first brought into attention when Frank Brunni of The New York Times criticized the early sequence of the Osama bin Laden hunt film, which featured an agent named Dan (portrayed Jason Clarke) went violent toward a detainee. "The movie shows a detainee being strung up by his wrists, sexually humiliated, deprived of sleep, made to feel as if he's drowning and shoved into a box smaller than a coffin," so Brunni wrote.
Since then, the movie was deemed a "pro-torture," but Bigelow insisted that her movie had been "misinterpreted." The film will open in selected screens on Wednesday, December 19 before opening wide on January 11 next year.
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