Zero Dark Thirty and CIA: an­other plot twist

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS -

The con­tro­versy sur­round­ing Zero Dark Thirty has still not gone away.

Early this year, a US se­nate com­mit­tee launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to dis­cover whether the film-mak­ers had been granted “in­ap­pro­pri­ate ac­cess” to clas­si­fied CIA ma­te­rial. The com­mit­tee sus­pended its ac­tiv­i­ties af­ter dis­cov­er­ing noth­ing of sig­nif­i­cance.

It has, how­ever, now been claimed that the CIA did suc­cess­fully pres­surise Mark Boal, the film’s writer, into re­mov­ing cer­tain scenes that could have cast the or­gan­i­sa­tion in an even less flat­ter­ing light. Most sig­nif­i­cantly, the orig­i­nal script ap­par­ently had Maya, the pro­tag­o­nist, ac­tu­ally par­tic­i­pat­ing in wa­ter-board­ing tor­ture rather than merely ob­serv­ing from the side­lines. A scene in which CIA op­er­a­tives cel­e­brate on a rooftop – dis­charg­ing AK-47’s wildly in the air – is also be­lieved to have been ex­cised. The in­for­ma­tion emerged in a memo re­leased un­der the US’s Freedom of In­for­ma­tion laws.

Boal, an ex­pe­ri­enced jour­nal­ist, of­fered a fairly canny spin on the rev­e­la­tions. “We hon­oured cer­tain re­quests to keep op­er­a­tional de­tails and the iden­tity of the par­tic­i­pants con­fi­den­tial,” he said. “But, as with any pub­li­ca­tion or work of art, the fi­nal de­ci­sions as to the con­tent were made by the film-mak­ers.”

The ker­fuf­fle scares up some in­ter­est­ing ques­tions about how the CIA per­ceives it­self. Does the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­ally be­lieve that the film as it stands presents a happy pic­ture of that in­tel­li­gence body? Spooks are spooky peo­ple.

Don’t look now: Jessica Chas­tain in Zero Dark Thirty

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