A Freedom of Information Act request by Gawker reveals that the CIA pushed through changes to the script of the film Zero Dark Thirty. The movie had already been condemned for being grossly inaccurate and dishonest and now it seems we might have more information on why.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden revenge-porn flick Zero Dark Thirty was the biggest publicity coup for the CIA this century outside of the actual killing of Osama bin Laden. But the extent to which the CIA shaped the film has remained unclear. Now, a memo obtained by Gawker shows that the CIA actively, and apparently successfully, pressured Mark Boal to remove scenes that made them look bad from the Zero Dark Thirty script.
The CIA’s whitewashing effort is revealed in a cache of documents newly released under a Freedom of Information Act request about the CIA’s cooperation with Bigelow and Boal. The documents include a 2012 memo—initially classified “SECRET”—summarizing five conference calls between Boal and the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs in late 2011. “The purpose for these discussions was for OPA officers to help promote an appropriate portrayal of the Agency and the Bin Ladin operation,” according to the memo.
Unfortunately for Bigelow and Boal the CIA were lying to them – something John Brennan admitted during his confirmation testimony. Not that this was an incredible revelation as the Senate had already blown the whistle on ZDT’s promotion of the CIA’s propaganda on torture.
During these calls, Boal “verbally shared the screenplay” for Zero Dark Thirty in order to get the CIA’s feedback, and the CIA’s public affairs department verbally asked Boal to take out parts that they objected to. According to the memo, he did.
And it is important to note these are editorial and artistic changes, well after the initial (false) information was supplied to Boal on what events occurred and why. Is it the job now of the CIA to edit and produce popular films?