Bush CIA Director: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Portrayal of Interrogations 'Not Factually True'

On the eve of Sunday's Academy Awards presentation, former George W. Bush CIA Director Michael Hayden has made a strong statement about the hunt for Osama bin Laden film "Zero Dark Thirty."

In an interview to be aired on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday, Hayden said, "If you look at the movie, it was artistically true, not factually true. Artistically, it portrayed the CIA interrogation program, but factually it was overwrought and inaccurate" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: Did enhanced interrogation techniques, specifically waterboarding, get us the vital information on the path to Osama bin Laden?

MICHAEL HAYDEN, CIA DIRECTOR UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well Fareed, we waterboarded only three people. Now there were several detainees in CIA custody against whom enhanced interrogation techniques were used – not including waterboarding – that did provide information that formed part of the fabric, part of the tapestry of information that we used to finally get to Abbottabad.

If you look at the movie [“Zero Dark Thirty”], it was artistically true, not factually true. Artistically, it portrayed the CIA interrogation program, but factually it was overwrought and inaccurate. Artistically it seemed to draw tight connections between the interrogation program and Abbottabad. There were connections, but they weren’t that tight. And finally artistically, it had Maya against the world and against a large fraction of the rest of the agency which really wasn’t true. This was a team effort over a long period of time.

But even Director Panetta has pointed out that some of the information that formed part of that fabric in the hunt for bin Laden came from detainees against whom enhanced interrogation techniques had been used.


Other than how it related to "Zero Dark Thirty," this is right in line with what Hayden wrote in the Wall Street Journal in June 2011.

As such, at issue appears to be the waterboarding incident depicted in the film.

I'm sure this isn't the kind of conversation those involved with the movie wish to be occurring on the eve of the Oscars.

Regardless, it does once again confirm that enhanced interrogation techniques did help us get bin Laden.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.