'Zero Dark Thirty' has the facts wrong – and that's a problem, not just for the Oscars
My account of the decisionmaking process that led to the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound was a lead article in TIME magazine’s May 7, 2012 issue, a year after bin Laden’s death. And from my study of what really happened, I see glaring holes in the story as portrayed by “Zero Dark Thirty.”
In assessing the essential veracity of the film, we could ask ordinary viewers three questions:
- Was information extracted by “enhanced interrogation” the key in finding the terrorist mastermind who killed 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001?
- Would “the system” (CIA as an organization with its counter-terrorism professionals and practices) have failed had it not been for the tenacious risk taking of one young female CIA agent?
- Was the White House, and specifically President Obama, essentially irrelevant or even a drag, delaying what should have been an easy, quick, early action to eliminate bin Laden?
Most viewers I have spoken to believe, based on the film, that the answer to each of these questions is yes. In fact, in each case, the answer is no.