As many of my colleagues at the Center for Policy & Research know, I am a big fan of Kathryn Bigelow’s 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty. Billed as a film about “The Greatest Manhunt in History,” the film chronicles the CIA’s decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, centered around the efforts of a female CIA operative named simply “Maya.” Continue reading
Over the past few weeks, the film “Zero Dark Thirty” has undoubtedly brought heightened attention to the United States’ hunt for bin Laden (UBL). In the film, some of the more shocking scenes include those in which the main characters, CIA agents, are interrogating detainees at various detention facilities. The film shows some of the more frequently discussed EIT’s, or Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (arguably, just a more palatable euphemism for torture), including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, food deprivation, stress positions, blasting loud music, and playing off the detainees’ fears and cultural beliefs.
Regardless of whether director Kathryn Bigelow took artistic license when developing these scenes in the film, it is indisputable that EIT’s have been regularly used by the United States in the decade that has passed since the 9/11 attacks. With the secrecy that shrouded the mission leading to the capture of UBL, it is only natural that the public is hungry for the details regarding how the intelligence leading to that fateful night in Abbottabad .
In an interview on “Meet the Press” that aired Sunday night, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the search for UBL included piecing together a great deal of disparate information, and admitted that some of the information came from EIT’s, saying “Yes, some of it came from some of the tactics that were used at that time – interrogation tactics that were used.”
However, he continued on to say “I think we could have gotten Bin Laden without [EIT's]“- essentially revealing that the controversial EIT’s were not necessary to achieve the United States’ most significant accomplishment thus far in the Great War on Terror, capturing UBL.