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US senators criticise ‘grossly inaccurate’ Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden thriller is under fire from a bipartisan group of senators who have written to Sony calling for a disclaimer to be added to the film; Bigelow disputes interpretation.

A cross-party trio of senators including prominent democrat Dianne Feinstein and republican former presidential candidate John McCain, have written to Sony CEO Michael Lynton to criticise the veracity of Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar contender Zero Dark Thirty, according to the Associated Press.  

The senators called the film “grossly inaccurate” in its suggestion that torture produced the tip that led the US military to find terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Director Kathryn Bigelow has disputed that interpretation.

The members of the Senate Intelligence committee — Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin and John McCain — insisted that Sony had an obligation to add a disclaimer to the film, which currently opens with a statement that the film is ‘based on first-hand accounts of actual events.’

McCain has insisted that the waterboarding of a senior al-Qaida member did not provide information that led to bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

“We are fans of many of your movies, and we understand the special role that movies play in our lives, but the fundamental problem is that people who see Zero Dark Thirty will believe that the events it portrays are facts,” the three senators wrote. “The film therefore has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner.”

In their letter to Sony, the three said 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 studio are perpetuating the myth that torture is effective. You have a social and moral obligation to get the facts right.”

Director Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal said in a statement from Sony that they depicted “a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden.”

Bigelow and Boal said the film showed that no single method was responsible in the successful manhunt for bin Laden, and no single scene in isolation captures the total effort the movie dramatises.

McCain said he watched the film on Monday night.

Critically lauded Zero Dark Thirty opens in New York and Los Angeles this week. It opens across the US and most international territories in January.

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