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Tequila, Painted Pearls, and Prada: How the CIA Helped Produce ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Posted by iscariotes em 11 de setembro de 2015

Fonte: Vice

On April 21, 2011, Mark Boal called the CIA to tell them he was going to Afghanistan.

The previous year, the screenwriter had been at a dinner when CIA director Leon Panetta asked Boal to alert the agency if he ever traveled to the country. At the time, Boal was working on a movie called Tora Bora, about the CIA’s failure to capture Osama bin Laden in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The title referred to the region in eastern Afghanistan where the US felt it had let bin Laden slip through its fingers during a battle in December 2001.

But less than two weeks after Boal made the call, a team of Navy SEALs raided the al Qaeda leader’s compound in Pakistan and killed him. Boal would not be going to Afghanistan after all.

Instead, he stopped writing the script for Tora Bora and began writing a different screenplay about what one lawmaker called “the most classified mission in history” — the killing of bin Laden. That movie, which Boal would work on with director Kathryn Bigelow, would become the 2012 Oscar-winning film Zero Dark Thirty. And the CIA would play a huge role in the creation of the script.

* * *

The previously undisclosed detail about Boal’s phone call to the CIA was included in more than 100 pages of internal CIA documents obtained exclusively by VICE News in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. The documents contain the most detailed information to date about the controversial role the CIA played in the production of Zero Dark Thirty (ZDT).

Included in the trove of redacted agency records is a March 2014 CIA Office of Inspector General report titled “Alleged Disclosure of Classified Information by Former D/CIA” —D/CIA refers to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta — and a separate September 2013 report from the inspector general’s office titled “Potential Ethics Violations Involving Film Producers.”

The ethics report contains remarkable details about how Bigelow and Boal gave CIA officers gifts and bought them meals at hotels and restaurants in Los Angeles and Washington, DC — much of which initially went unreported by the CIA officers — how they won unprecedented access to secret details about the bin Laden operation, and how they got agency officers and officials to review and critique the ZDT script.

Representative Peter King, the Republican congressman from New York and the former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, had pressed the inspectors general at CIA and Department of Defense in August 2011, a month after Panetta left the CIA to serve as secretary of defense, to investigate the alleged disclosures to Boal and Bigelow. This came after news reports claimed that high-ranking Obama administration officials granted the filmmakers extraordinary access to classified details about the bin Laden operation, and that the disclosures led to the arrests of Pakistanis who assisted the CIA in the operation. King’s objections were centered around the fact that the movie was originally slated for release a month before the 2012 presidential election — it ended up premiering in December — and that it would have been used by Obama’s reelection campaign.

The CIA worked with Bigelow and Boal at a time when the agency’s so-called enhanced interrogation program was under scrutiny by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee. They were working on what came to be known as the Senate torture report, about the efficacy of the techniques to which CIA captives were subjected. The report concluding that those techniques did not yield unique or actionable intelligence and had nothing to do with tracking down bin Laden. ZDT, however, strongly suggested that the use of torture led the agency to bin Laden, a narrative that current and former CIA officials promoted in numerous op-eds and interviews after bin Laden was killed. That the narrative was so prominently featured in ZDT angered Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who fired off a letter to the president of Sony Pictures objecting to what she called a “false narrative.”

To this day, the CIA vigorously defends its use of so-called “enhanced interrogation.” This week, several former agency officials, including one who met with Bigelow and Boal, are releasing a book titled Rebuttal that defends the agency’s enhanced interrogation program and harshly criticizes the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report.

* * *

The inspector general’s reports said the CIA’s working relationship with the filmmakers began in 2010, a year before bin Laden was killed.

“Based on a review of documentation and interviews, the inspector general’s office determined the CIA’s cooperation with filmmakers Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow began in 2010 when Panetta and Bigelow met at an event where Bigelow discussed her film project ‘Tora Bora,’ a film project involving the CIA’s failure to capture [bin Laden], and Panetta offered the Agency’s assistance.”

Within days of bin Laden’s death, Boal secured meetings with CIA officials and counterterrorism officers. According to the inspector general’s report about potential ethics violations by CIA officers, Boal also sent a letter to George Little, then the director of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs, shortly after news broke about bin Laden’s death.

Boal wished to discuss his new plan: Scrapping the script for Tora Bora and instead telling the story of how the CIA managed to find and kill bin Laden. Less than three weeks after bin Laden’s death, Boal and Michael Feldman, a public relations representative for Tora Bora, met with CIA officials to discuss the new project.

Em https://news.vice.com/article/tequila-painted-pearls-and-prada-how-the-cia-helped-produce-zero-dark-thirty


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