Republican Sen. John McCain, who suffered brutal treatment while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has questioned the depiction of torture in Zero Dark Thirty, the new movie drama about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
McCain said he was sickened by the film's scenes showing al-Qaeda's No. 3 leader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, being tortured for information and also said he believes the information that led investigators to bin Laden came from another source.
Speaking in the Senate on Tuesday, McCain said he believed the film was inaccurate in portraying torture as an effective way of getting information about bin Laden. He said then-CIA director Leon Panetta had told him Sheikh Mohammed did not release information and that the name of bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, came from a detainee held in another country.
"Not only did the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed, it actually produced false and misleading information," McCain said in a speech given from the Senate floor.
McCain opposes water-boarding and any other torture tactics and says they are not necessary to fight terrorism.
Revived controversy over film
The limited release of director Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty in the U.S. on Wednesday has revived controversies surrounding the film. In addition to the depiction of torture by CIA investigators, the filmmakers face fresh allegations that they had access to restricted information.
According to ABC News, an upcoming report from the U.S. Defence Department's inspector general will criticize a member of the department for his role advising Bigelow and Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal.
The Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday evening that Michael Vickers, undersecretary of defence for intelligence and a candidate to be the next CIA director, is under investigation by its inspector general in connection with information he provided to the Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers.
The yet-to-be-released report could refer Vickers to the Justice Department for a further probe into whether his release of information to the filmmakers was a criminal act.
Rep. Peter King, who is ending his tenure as head of the House Committee of Homeland Security, released a statement Tuesday calling the development "troubling" and noting that he's been a "leading critic of the Obama administration’s collaboration on the film."
Boal and Bigelow have maintained that they went through the proper channels and did not have access to classified information during the filmmaking process. They started production before bin Laden was found and had to reshoot many scenes after the May 2011 raid in which he was killed.
On Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney referred reporters to the Pentagon when asked about the issue of access to information by the filmmakers.