Monday, December 31, 2012

The CIA’s use of torture

Message from the Acting Director: "Zero Dark Thirty"

Statement to Employees from Acting Director Michael Morell: "Zero Dark Thirty"

December 21, 2012

I would not normally comment on a Hollywood film, but I think it important to put Zero Dark Thirty, which deals with one of the most significant achievements in our history, into some context. The film, which premiered this week, addresses the successful hunt for Usama Bin Ladin that was the focus of incredibly dedicated men and women across our Agency, Intelligence Community, and military partners for many years. But in doing so, the film takes significant artistic license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate.

What I want you to know is that Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts. CIA interacted with the filmmakers through our Office of Public Affairs but, as is true with any entertainment project with which we interact, we do not control the final product.

It would not be practical for me to walk through all the fiction in the film, but let me highlight a few aspects that particularly underscore the extent to which the film departs from reality.

First, the hunt for Usama Bin Ladin was a decade-long effort that depended on the selfless commitment of hundreds of officers. The filmmakers attributed the actions of our entire Agency—and the broader Intelligence Community—to just a few individuals. This may make for more compelling entertainment, but it does not reflect the facts. The success of the May 1st 2011 operation was a team effort—and a very large team at that.

Second, the film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were the key to finding Bin Ladin. That impression is false. As we have said before, the truth is that multiple streams of intelligence led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Ladin was hiding in Abbottabad. Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well. And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved.

Third, the film takes considerable liberties in its depiction of CIA personnel and their actions, including some who died while serving our country. We cannot allow a Hollywood film to cloud our memory of them.

Commentators will have much to say about this film in the weeks ahead. Through it all, I want you to remember that Zero Dark Thirty is not a documentary. What you should also remember is that the Bin Ladin operation was a landmark achievement by our country, by our military, by our Intelligence Community, and by our Agency.

Michael Morell

Posted: Dec 21, 2012 03:08 PM
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2012 03:59 PM
Last Reviewed: Dec 21, 2012 03:08 PM

Dear Friends:

Please ask the President to support adoption of the report on the investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee into CIA torture.  This 6,000 page report, the result of a three-year investigation, is said to describe in detail the decisions at all levels that led to the use of torture.  Further, we believe it will provide important evidence showing that torture was not only ineffective, but also made our nation more unsafe.

Many supporters of torture continue to claim that its use made our country safer.  They are wrong, and the report on this investigation could help prove that they are wrong.  Please help us obtain the facts by writing to the President today.

Thank you,

Linda Gustitus, President
Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director

Earlier this year, the film "Zero Dark Thirty", which purports to dramatize the hunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden, generated substantial political controversy. It was discovered that CIA and White House officials had met with its filmmakers and passed non-public information to them - at exactly the same time that DOJ officials were in federal court resisting transparency requests from media outlets and activist groups on the ground that it was all classified.

With its release imminent, the film is now garnering a pile of top awards and virtually uniform rave reviews. What makes this so remarkable is that, by most accounts, the film glorifies torture by claiming - falsely - that waterboarding and other forms of coercive interrogation tactics were crucial, even indispensable in finding bin Laden.

For more than three years, the Senate Intelligence Committee has been conducting an investigation into the CIA’s use of torture between September 11, 2001 and the end of 2008. We have been told that the resulting 6,000 page report will show that torture was not only ineffective, but was harmful to our national security. 

The task before us is to ensure that its findings are approved by the Committee and made public.
NRCAT is working hard to make that happen.

A generous group of NRCAT supporters are helping us advocate for release of the Intelligence Committee’s report — and they are asking you to join them. They are offering a $10,000 challenge grant to encourage you to join them in supporting NRCAT’s effort to advocate for full release of the Committee’s findings.

Thanks to the commitment of these people of faith your impact will double when you make a tax-deductible gift to NRCAT between now and December 31. 

That means that $25 will become $50 and $50 will become $100. That also means your donation will go twice as far to build the faith-based, grassroots call for the Intelligence Committee to share what they know with our country.

Please join this critical work by making a tax-deductible gift to NRCAT today.

We are truly grateful for every donation we receive and gifts of every size make a huge impact on the effectiveness of our work. And when we receive them between now and December 31, they will go twice as far in our efforts to make the results of the SSCI report public. 

When you make your secure online donation, you can also send a message to President Obama urging him to encourage the members of the Committee to make their findings public. 

If you believe that torture is always wrong and that the country deserves the truth about treatment of 9/11 detainees, we hope you will join this very important campaign. Thank you for your commitment to abolishing U.S.-sponsored torture forever. We are truly grateful for your support.

Linda Gustitus            Rev. Richard Killmer
President                   Executive Director              

P.S. Don’t forget to send a message to President Obama when  you make your gift. We have already collected thousands of signatures. As NRCAT’s past successes show, the government takes the religious community seriously, when people of faith advocate with vigor the government listens. Thank you for your support!

If you prefer to support NRCAT by mail, kindly mail a check payable to NRCAT to 110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 502, Washington, DC 20002.

NRCAT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to abolishing torture in U.S. policy, practice and culture. Your donation is deductible for income tax purposes to the extent allowed by law. No goods or services are received in exchange for your donations.

No comments:

Post a Comment