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Friday, 4 January 2013
Zero Dark Thirty: CIA Questioned Over Torture
US senators have demanded to know what the CIA told the makers of a controversial film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden about the use of torture.
Zero Dark Thirty shows an al Qaeda figure undergoing waterboarding, which simulates near-drowning, and other similar interrogation techniques before eventually providing information that helps ultimately track down Bin Laden.
However, a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the CIA's detainee programme has previously concluded that such methods produced no useful intelligence.
In a letter to the CIA, Dianne Feinstein, John McCain and others asked Michael Morell, the CIA's acting director, to share documents detailing what the filmmakers were told.
They asked him to provide what information was acquired from detainees and whether it was "prior to, during, or after the detainee was subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques? If after, how long after?"
In another letter, they wrote: "The CIA cannot be held accountable for how the agency and its activities are portrayed in film, but we are nonetheless concerned... that the filmmakers could have been misled by information they were provided by the CIA."
The filmmakers reportedly had a 40-minute meeting with Mr Morell about the film.
In a recent statement, the director and screenwriter 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 dramatises".
In a statement last month to employees, Mr Morell said that while the film was wrong to depict harsh techniques as being key to the hunt for bin Laden, those interrogations did produce some useful intelligence.
"Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well," he said.
CIA spokesman John Tomczyk said the agency would co-operate with inquiries from the senators.
"As we've said before, we take very seriously our responsibility to keep our oversight committees informed and value our relationship with Congress," he said.
Zero Dark Thirty opens in the UK later this month and has been tipped for Oscar success.
Directed by the Hurt Locker's Kathryn Bigelow and starring Jessica Chastain as a CIA agent, it charts the hunt for bin Laden and the raid on his compound by US Navy Seals.
This week, The Producers Guild of America included the movie on its best film shortlist, while it has also been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture.