'Zero Dark Thirty' Torture Scenes 'Grossly Inaccurate,' Senators Say

Letter to studio head objects to brutal interrogation depictions

Alex Corbet Burcher, Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Courtesy of Sony
Alex Corbet Burcher and Jessica Chastain in 'Zero Dark Thirty'
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Three U.S. senators have criticized Zero Dark Thirty for its depictions of torture, calling Kathryn Bigelow's film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden "grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of" the Al Qaeda leader, The New York Times reports. 

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and John McCain (R-Arizona) penned the letter to chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Michael Lynton, saying that the movie "has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner."

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The letter objetcs to the film's depiction of how CIA agents interrogated Al Qaeda suspects, which Feinstein has said did not result in information that led to bin Laden, who was killed in May 2011 during a raid by Navy SEALS. Calling the film "factually inaccurate," the letter says that crucial information "was obtained from a wide variety of intelligence sources and methods. CIA officers and their colleagues throughout the intelligence community sifted through massive amounts of information, identified possible leads, tracked them down and made considered judgments based on all of the available intelligence." 

The senators criticize the use of torture in general, writing that the use of brutal interrogation methods as part of the war on terror "did severe damage to America's values and standing that cannot be justified or expunged." It continues: "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."

Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have said the film makes clear that the most important information in the search for bin Laden was not a result of torture. 

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