As you may have already read about, the new film Zero Dark Thirty, which alleges to be the fact-based re-telling of the capture and execution of Bin Laden strongly suggests — regardless of all evidence to the contrary — that information obtained through torture was central to tracking down Bin Laden. The film has also been criticized because of the questionable access that its directors and writer have received from the CIA and White House.
Just yesterday, Senators Levin, Feinstein, and McCain have written a scathing letter directed to Sony Picture’s CEO and Chairman criticizing the film’s depiction of torture and stating in definitive terms that the evidence that led to the Bin Laden operation was not procured through torture, but through other unrelated means.
They followed with a strong recommendation that that falsehood be corrected:
. . . but the fundamental problem is that people who see Zero Dark Thirty will believe that the events it portrays are facts. The film therefore has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner. Recent public opinion polls suggest that a narrow majority of Americans believe that torture can be justified as an effective form of intelligence gathering. This is false. We know that cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners is an unreliable and highly ineffective means of gathering intelligence.
The use of torture should be banished from serious discourse for these reasons alone, but more importantly, because it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, because it is an affront to America’s national honor, and because it is wrong. The use of torture in the fight against terrorism did severe damage to America’s values and standing that cannot be justified or expunged. It remains a stain on our national conscience. We cannot afford to go back to these dark times, and with the release of Zero Dark Thirty, the filmmakers and your production are perpetuating the myth that torture is effective. You have a social and moral obligation to get the facts rights.
Please consider correcting the impression that the CIA’s use of coercive interrogation techniques led to the operation against Usama Bin Laden. It did not.
Now, I think Senator McCain is one of the most hypocritical, cynical politicians in recent American memory — for example, he met with and reopened the doors to Gaddafi (including selling him US military technology) along with Condalezza Rice, not to mention Sarah Palin, yet he can claim with a straight face that Ambassador Rice is unfit for the job of Secretary of State because of her statements on Libya — you do have to give him credit for singing this letter. I would like to know how he squares this with his objection to closing Guantanamo.
As a side note, it is nice to see someone correctly transcribe the name as “Usama” and not Osama, not just because Usama doesn’t rhyme with Obama, but because that is how it is pronounce, with a “U”.