The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

January 3, 2013
Senators call on CIA to come clean about 'Zero Dark Thirty'
Three key U.S. senators went after the studio behind "Zero Dark Thirty," the acclaimed but controversial movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Now, they're aiming at the CIA.

The senators -- Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein of California, Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan and top Armed Services Republican John McCain of Arizona -- disclosed today that they have written letters to Acting CIA Director Michael Morell seeking clarification about the CIA's role in shaping the movie and what they call its misleading impression that torture helped lead to bin Laden.

As I've written previously, the senators say they're convinced by the Intelligence Committee's exhaustive review of still-secret CIA documents that "enhanced interrogation" did not provide the key information that uncovered bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan. They have expressed concern about previous statements by CIA officials that suggest the opposite.

In a Dec. 19 letter to Morell, the senators raise concerns that what they call the CIA's "unprecedented cooperation" with the filmmakers misled them on how the information was obtained. The honorables request documents and other information on the CIA's role in the movie.

In a Dec. 31 follow-up, the senators ask Morell for more detail and clarity on his Dec. 21 message to CIA employees about "Zero Dark Thirty." He told CIA colleagues that "strong impression" left by the movie that enhanced interrogation was the key to finding bin Laden is "false."

But Morell also said that some intelligence on bin Laden's location "came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well. And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggest, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitely resolved."

As the continuing controversy shows, there can be little debate about that. The movie, by the way, opens nationwide on Jan. 11.

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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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