‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Senate probe goes dark, focus now on interrogation methods in bin Laden hunt

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The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has completed a review of contacts between the CIA and the filmmakers of “Zero Dark Thirty” — the movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden — but has not disclosed what documents it examined or why it is ending its investigation.

The committee, however, is continuing to probe what role harsh interrogation techniques played in the hunt for the al Qaeda leader.

In the movie, an al Qaeda member who is waterboarded divulges the identity of bin Laden’s courier, a vital clue that eventually leads the CIA to the terrorist mastermind’s hideout in Pakistan.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and committee chairwoman, has said that depiction is inaccurate.

The committee has received “additional information from the CIA” about its contacts with director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, a congressional aide told The Washington Times. “That review is finished.”

The congressional aide said that the committee is seeking clarification from the CIA about statements by current and former agency leaders that harsh interrogation methods were vital in the hunt for bin Laden.

The techniques included the simulated drowning known as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and the use of so-called “stress positions” in which subjects are forced to stand in uncomfortable poses for many hours. The International Red Cross labels such techniques as torture.

Some lawmakers last year accused the Obama administration of endangering national security by revealing to the filmmakers secret details about the hunt for bin Laden and the Navy SEAL raid that killed him in 2011.

The Pentagon inspector general referred one case for possible criminal investigation by the Justice Department, but no prosecution has been brought.

Officials at the Justice Department were not immediately available for comment.

After having conducted a six-year investigation, the committee last year adopted a 6,000-page report on the harsh methods, known as enhanced interrogation techniques.

Although the report is classified, committee members have said it shows that CIA officials made unjustifiable and inflated claims about the value of intelligence obtained through the use of those techniques.

The congressional aide said the committee is seeking clarification from the CIA about the different accounts of the effectiveness of the techniques.

“We know what answer we have [from our investigation],” the aide said.

“We are seeking to understand more about why their answer seems to be different.”

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About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

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