Senate Intelligence Committee drops bin Laden film probe

WASHINGTON Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:38pm EST

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal of ''Zero Dark Thirty'', which is nominated for Best Picture Oscar, arrive at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 24, 2013. Both Bigelow and Boal are also producers for the film. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal of ''Zero Dark Thirty'', which is nominated for Best Picture Oscar, arrive at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 24, 2013. Both Bigelow and Boal are also producers for the film.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One day after "Zero Dark Thirty" failed to win major awards at the Oscars, a congressional aide said on Monday the Senate Intelligence Committee has closed its inquiry into the filmmakers' contacts with the Central Intelligence Agency.

The intelligence committee gathered more information from the CIA, film director Kathryn Bigelow, and screenwriter Mark Boal and will not take further action, according to the aide, who requested anonymity.

Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produced the film, had no immediate comment. But attacks by Washington politicians may have damaged its prospects at the Academy Awards. "Zero Dark Thirty" was nominated for a best picture award, which it did not win. Also, in what industry watchers considered a snub, Bigelow did not receive a best director nomination.

The Senate committee launched its review of the film, a dramatization of how the U.S. government located and killed Osama bin Laden, after its chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, expressed outrage over scenes that implied that "enhanced interrogations" of CIA detainees produced an breakthrough that helped lead to the al Qaeda leader.

In December, as "Zero Dark Thirty" was about to premiere nationwide, Feinstein joined fellow Democrat Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain in condemning "particularly graphic scenes of CIA officers torturing detainees" in the film.

A source familiar with contacts between the filmmakers and intelligence officials said the CIA did not tell the filmmakers "enhanced interrogations" led to bin Laden. Instead, the agency helped develop characters in the film, said the source.

The political fallout prompted Bigelow to write in an op-ed piece: "Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time."

The government cooperated as much, if not more, on "Argo," the film about the 1979-81 hostage crisis in Iran that won the best picture Oscar. Actor-director Ben Affleck and his team were allowed to film scenes in the lobby of the CIA building in Langley, Virginia; the "Zero Dark Thirty" crew did no such filming.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball. Editing by Warren Strobel and Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (4)
Redeemed wrote:
Feinstein and the mind-police are taking political correctness to a new level. Once you destroy the First Amendment, and when the media participates in that destruction, the freedoms created by a capitalistic democratic republic cannot survive and tyranny prevails. All totalitarian regimes begin by persecuting the arts and the church, unless, of course, the arts and the church can be coerced, as happened with Leni Riefenstahl and the Lutheran Church in Nazi Germany, to promulgate the party line. The nation and our freedom are currently in grave danger.

Feb 25, 2013 7:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
TomGenin wrote:
“Senator Dianne Feinstein, expressed outrage over scenes that implied that “enhanced interrogations” of CIA detainees produced an breakthrough that helped lead to the al Qaeda leader.”

So the question is, was Feinstein upset that the enhanced interroations led to the breakthrough, (which it was in fact part of), or that the movie dared to depict it?

Since the former is a fact, clearly Feinstein’s problem was the freedom of speech involved in the depiction.

Feb 26, 2013 9:08am EST  --  Report as abuse
Mainspring44 wrote:
Evidently CIA denying that “enhanced” techniques of interrogating detainees in its custody led directly to locating Osama bin Laden wasn’t cleared with enough self-appointed experts. That’s my read on initial comments to a plain language statement in the Reuters account that “contacts between the filmmakers and intelligence officials said the CIA did not tell the filmmakers ‘enhanced interrogations’ led to bin Laden.”

Feb 26, 2013 9:49am EST  --  Report as abuse
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