Foreign and Defense Policy

Watching ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ with the CIA

Image Credit: The National Guard (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Image Credit: The National Guard (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Update (2/1/2013): The event mentioned in this post took place on January 29, 2013.  Click here for a Zero Dark Thirty “Fact vs. Fiction” cheat sheet and a recording of the panel discussion.

“Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to the Academy Award-winning “The Hurt Locker” has amassed not only praise and accolades, but also quite a bit of controversy since its release. The film, which is based on actual events surrounding the tracking down and capture of Osama bin Laden, has drawn criticism, perhaps most notably from a handful of U.S. Senators.  In mid-December, Senators Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, and John McCain penned a letter to the Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment (the film’s distributor), Michael Lynton, to protest the film as “grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden.”

In their letter, they maintain that CIA interrogations did not contribute to the ultimate capture of bin Laden. But is that true—did interrogations and use of torture methods not play a role in the discovery of information that made the capture possible?  AEI’s Marc Thiessen will be moderating a panel today to discuss just that: three CIA officers who served during the hunt for bin Laden will share their experiences and offer insights into the role that enhanced interrogation played in revealing crucial information.

Personally, I think it will be extremely intriguing to hear about CIA activities during the search for bin Laden, and I know this will be a fascinating panel. Knowing what is fact and what is fiction in the movie is important to appreciating it as a piece of art.

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