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article imageCIA memo discusses cooperation with Zero Dark Thirty Movie

By Craig S. Byrnes     May 7, 2013 in Politics
Washington - A newly declassified memo indicates the CIA's relationship with Zero Dark Thirty movie was one of complicity. Approved for release on April 22 this year it offers a pithy summary of five conference calls held between Zero Dark Thirty writers and the CIA.
The memo explains “from an Agency perspective, the purpose of these discussions was for the OPA officers to help promote an appropriate portrayal of the Agency and the Bin Ladin operation.
At its core the memo shows how national security can function in a democratic society, and reinforces that the movie is in fact a fictional account of the Bin Ladin operation—not a documentary. According to the memo, Boal “verbally shared” the screenplay himself, “noted early on that while it is known that he conducted research for his screenplay from a variety of sources the characters and storyline are heavily fictionalized while based on true events.”
Even so many claim that CIA “shaped” the movie by exerting pressures on Boal, but substantive proof remains elusive. reporter Adrian Chen characterized the memos content as proof of a “whitewashing effort” by the CIA in dealing with Boal. However, this is not substantiated within the document itself. (View the article here)
The memo says OPA, “advised Boal to be mindful of characters names that were very similar to the names of real life officers.” What is apparent is a meticulously cautious approach designed to mitigate further loss of life by sufficiently changing names, and by voluntarily omitting some scenes. This shows an effort to limit confusion, and demonstrates efforts of all parties to be prudent.
The memo allows for many interpretations because of its vague wording—and redactions—but it makes sense. Reasonable objections made in regards to enhanced interrogation scenes were posited, according to officials, because to their collective knowledge, “such tactics would not be used by the agency.” Any determination of Boal’s intentions would be rife in speculation, if for no reason other than his lack of comment on the issue.
Another point of interest is the acknowledgement of, “several scenes throughout the film of Agency officers socializing that are used as character development/interplay/dialogue.” It is here a recommendation/request is noted by OPA elaborating on a specific and arguably reasonable objection.
“One scene early in the film that was objected to was a rooftop party in Islamabad where an officer, after drinking fires a celebratory burst of AK-47 gunfire into the air. We insisted mixing drinks and firearms is a major violation and actions like this do not happen in real life. We requested this be taken out of the film. Boal confirmed he took the scene out of the film.”
The memo closes by characterizing the raid scene as a “well reported tick tock of events,” before concluding with a brief mention of speculation surrounding the presence of CIA personnel in the raid being something Boal would probably fictionalize.
Finally, it is important to remember the US constitution protects against censorship. This means Boal and Bigelow could have included anything they wanted in their screenplay even after involving CIA and DOD.
View the Memo Here
More about Cia, Zero Dark Thirty, Censorship, Mark Boal, gawkercom
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