Blockbuster hit Zero Dark Thirty, a film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, contained CIA propaganda to portray the agency’s controversial “enhanced interrogation techniques” — widely described as torture — as a key to finding information that resulted in the killing of bin Laden.
While the CIA maintains that its now officially-shuttered program was effective in combating terrorism, the massive Senate torture report released in December 2014 found that the program was brutal, mismanaged and — most importantly — did not work.
“We’ve found that, faced with 9/11 and the fear of a second attack, everybody from the head of the CIA, to the Justice Department, to the president asked ‘Can we do it?’ — meaning, can we do it legally — not, ‘Should we do it?’ says FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk, part of the team which uncovered the propaganda efforts.
“As the debate over how far the U.S. should be willing to go in the fight against terrorism continues, we felt it was important to tell the story of this CIA program, comprehensively, in documentary form,” Kirk says. “What we’ve found raises some very tough questions.”