The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

December 19, 2012
Senators to 'Zero Dark Thirty' studio: Tell the truth on torture
Three leading U.S. senators decided to play movie critics today, urging the studio behind "Zero Dark Thirty" to make clear that torture didn't lead to Osama bin Laden.

As I wrote last week about this controversy, some who have seen the award-winning movie, which opened in Los Angeles and New York today and opens nationwide Jan. 11, say it leaves the impression that waterboarding of a detainee uncovered the name of bin Laden's courier, who eventually led the CIA to the al-Qaida leader's hideout in Pakistan.

They now include Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Carl Levin of Michigan sent the unusual letter to the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment

Based on their review of still-secret CIA documents, they write that the film is "grossly inaccurate" and that Sony has an obligation to tell moviegoers that the role of torture "is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film's fictional narrative."

The letter goes on to say, "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. 

"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. 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."

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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