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CIA chief decries torture in Osama bin Laden hunt movie

Published on Dec 23, 2012 6:09 AM
Stills for Zero Dark Thirty, directed by Kathryn Bigelow -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Acting CIA director Michael Morell said that Zero Dark Thirty, the Hollywood take on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, exaggerates the importance of information obtained by harsh interrogations.

The movie by Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow tells the story of the decade-long search after Sept 11, 2001 that climaxed in last year's dramatic and deadly raid in May on the Al-Qaeda terror leader's hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The film shows US personnel using harsh interrogation techniques like water-boarding - a method widely seen as torture - to force captives to speak. The information obtained was crucial, according to the movie, in piecing together the trail that eventually led to bin Laden. Not so, Mr Morell said in a message to Central Intelligence Agency employees released to AFP on Saturday.

The movie "creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were the key to finding bin Laden. That impression is false." Mr Morell's message, sent to the employees on Friday, states that "multiple streams of intelligence" led CIA analysts to conclude that bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad.

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