The movie "Zero Dark Thirty" has been getting rave reviews and has been named movie of the year by the New York Film Critics Circle. But a trio of U.S. senators, including California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, calls it a "dangerous combination" of fact and fiction.
Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, joined Republican colleague John McCain of Arizona and fellow Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan in putting their complaints in a letter to Sony Pictures, which released the movie. ("Zero Dark Thirty" is now playing in Los Angeles area theaters.)
The three call the film "grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information" that led to finding Osama bin Laden. They acknowledge the film is fiction, but note that it opens with the words "based on first-hand accounts of actual events."
"Zero Dark Thirty," from Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker"), depicts CIA officers torturing detainees and obtaining critical information that leads them to bin Laden.
Senators say they have personally reviewed CIA records "and know that this is incorrect."
The Senate Intelligence Committee, under Feinstein's leadership, just last week finished a three-year review of the CIA interrogation program. The report is classified.
The senators say they are fans of the filmmaker and "understand the special role that movies play in our lives," but say the problem is that people will believe the film's version of events.
The letter says the use of torture should be banished from serious public discourse not only because it doesn't provide the results shown in the film, but because it also violates the Geneva Convention. "The use of torture in the fight against terrorism did severe damage to America's values and standing. ... We cannot afford to go back to these dark times."
McCain has firsthand experience of wartime torture: He was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He told the Associated Press the film "sickened" him.
The senators aren't the only ones unimpressed with "Zero Dark Thirty." The Los Angeles Film Critics Association gave the movie just one award: Best Editing.
Have you seen "Zero Dark Thirty"? What do you think of its depiction of events?