- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
- Sarah Palin’s online channel hits snag as Stephen Colbert buys similar URL
- SWAT spends seven hours in standoff with empty home
- U.S. troops told not to eat, drink in front of Muslims during Ramadan
CIA debuts film on secretive ‘52 China mission
Movie to teach new officials
Question of the Day
Far from the red carpets and glare of Hollywood lights, the CIA this week premiered a nonfiction film produced for the agency that recounts the mystique and the misery of a botched James Bond-like spy mission in China.
The film, which combines documentary footage and actors re-enacting events, is the first such movie in the spy agency’s history, but relatively few people are likely to see it.
CIA officials said the production is for internal use only, although it granted an Associated Press request to attend the screening.
The film documents one of the CIA’s more painful episodes, a failed attempt in November 1952 to recover an ethnic-Chinese spy who was part of an agent team the CIA had smuggled into the Manchuria region of northeastern China several months earlier. It was part of a much larger, long-classified covert-action program aimed at destabilizing the fledgling communist government of Mao Zedong.
Unbeknownst to the Americans, the agent team had been compromised, helping the Chinese set a trap.
When an unmarked C-47 cargo plane with two CIA paramilitary officers aboard swooped low over the arranged pickup point, Chinese troops in hiding opened fire. The Chinese had known the plane was coming and planned an elaborate ambush. The plane burst into flames and belly-flopped in a forested area.
The hourlong film, entitled “Extraordinary Fidelity,” was directed by Paul Wimmer, who produced and directed a 2002 Discovery Channel documentary on the Sept. 11 attacks titled “Pentagon Under Fire.” Among other projects, Mr. Wimmer served as a consulting producer for a 2009 National Geographic Channel documentary, “Great Escape: The Final Secrets,” about American prisoners during World War II.
The CIA film includes interviews with Mr. Fecteau and Mr. Downey, who have remained largely mum about the details of their experience, which ended with Mr. Fecteau’s release by the Chinese in December 1971 and Mr. Downey’s release in March 1973.
A key theme of the film is the behind-the-scenes efforts by CIA officials in Washington, throughout the men’s imprisonment, to keep their financial affairs in order and provide assistance to their families.
It features re-enactments of key scenes, including the ambush, the men’s harsh interrogations at the hands of the Chinese, and their methods of coping with confinement. Some portions were filmed at a former insane asylum in Petersburg, Va.
CIA Director Leon E. Panetta, who introduced the film to a packed auditorium at the CIA’s Langley, Va., headquarters, said it should serve as a valuable teaching tool for today’s generation of CIA officers. He said that more than half of today’s CIA employees joined the agency in just the past nine years. And 39 percent of the agency’s work force was not yet born, he said, when Mr. Downey was released in 1973.
Telling the story now, Mr. Panetta said, is a way to “honor the way they coped with a mission that failed.”
“Their commitment and dedication are a powerful source of inspiration,” Mr. Little said. “That should have been apparent to everyone.”
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Israel saves its enemies; Hamas endangers its friends
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Al Gore's climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- GOP report sees ties between rich donors, green 'nonprofits'
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- NAPOLITANO: Is the president incompetent or lawless?
- Lois Lerner hated conservatives, new emails show
- Geraldo Rivera: Matt Drudge 'doing his best to stir up a civil war'
- House votes to sue President Obama over claims of presidential power
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world