DiFi Makes Her Point … Maybe?

The day after the stench of torture ruined Zero Dark Thirty’s Oscar hopes, Reuters reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee has dropped its probe of the movie.

One day after “Zero Dark Thirty” failed to win major awards at the Oscars, a congressional aide said on Monday the Senate Intelligence Committee has closed its inquiry into the filmmakers’ contacts with the Central Intelligence Agency.

The intelligence committee gathered more information from the CIA, film director Kathryn Bigelow, and screenwriter Mark Boal and will not take further action, according to the aide, who requested anonymity.

And that may be all there is to the story.

Or maybe not.

As was made clear by the correspondence between Dianne Feinstein and Mike Morell in December, what DiFi wanted was to make sure CIA was not making official claims that torture worked.

In addition to ZD30’s failures last night, something else has happened — or was scheduled to happen — since that time. The CIA was supposed to provide its response to SSCI’s Torture Report on February 15. And of course, because of the delay of Brennan’s confirmation, Morell remains the Acting Director at CIA.

While I’ve seen no reporting on what they said, I presume if they were at least open to the conclusions of the report, DiFi would have less reason to continue correcting the record on ZD30 publicly.

Who knows? Maybe she achieved two objectives with her public pressure? Sinking the chances of the movie, and pushing against any rejection of the report.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

9 replies
  1. Arbusto says:

    Whatever the path of least resistance, that’s the policy DiFink will pursue. Whether provided with assurances or not, the Movie and through it the CIA, still tout torture as a viable intel tool. And each viewing of the film will reinforce it as fact.

  2. Ben Franklin says:

    I have a magnum more respect for the Academy members who don’t like the endorsement of torture.

    if only they had the same circumspection when voting for ARGO (Ahh go fuck yourself !)

  3. eh says:

    Wait, is the moral of this story actually supposed to be, “see? there’s no way that torture works, the movie didn’t even win an oscar.”

  4. What Constitution? says:

    And ZD30 didn’t win even with the heavy-handed tactic of letting Michelle Obama announce the winner. That’s “putting a stop to torture and standing up for the Rule of Law”, ain’t it? Let’s give her a Nobel Peace Prize, too.

  5. Peterr says:

    @What Constitution?: I think getting Michelle to announce the Best Picture wasn’t so much about ZD30 (CIA Rocks!) or Argo (Hollywood OutRocks CIA!!), but about the Oscars trying to one-up the Golden Globes for getting Bill Clinton to introduce the movie “Lincoln”.

    This is LA after all, where the war between the Oscars and the GGs is the one that matters most.

  6. pdaly says:


    I missed that connection. It must have been the Big Brother screen of Michelle in the White House overseeing the entertainment of America and smiling from on high on the entertainment industry assembled below that had me thinking along the same lines as What Constitution? @5.

  7. joanneleon says:

    Did anyone on the Senate committee investigate who Mark Boal consulted with in the White House, DoD, CIA? I think the people have the right to know who worked with them. I thought there were some questions about whether or not classified information had been revealed. I really want to know who they got their information (and agenda) from.

    And I’m still pretty upset about the fact that the government will not release information about the bin Laden mission to the public but they will release it to a movie writer (and his team, presumably), director, and crew. Were they given clearances? If not, everything that was revealed to them should be available to the public.

    And this whole thing about boosting the reputation of the CIA via Hollywood… who would have more motive to do that than a guy who knew he was going to become the director of the CIA, a guy who spent a lot of his career in the CIA, and a guy who said to Feinstein in his confirmation hearing that his goal is to turn that committee into the biggest fans and defenders of the CIA? Was Brennan involved in the hostage rescue in Iran too btw?

  8. phred says:

    What an embarrassment our Senate has become (not that the House is very far behind). Apparently DiFi is unaware that their hearings are for OUR benefit, not theirs. They are to inform the PUBLIC so that we understand what our government is up to, not to provide sound bites and photo ops for the endless campaigns of senators, but to provide effective governance.

    It has long exceeded my capacity to be able to adequately express my contempt for Congress.

    The timing could not be worse. “See they didn’t get any Oscars, so no harm no foul”. Meanwhile Thomas Drake, Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou, and all of their whistling blowing brethren really ought to be up in arms. Either information is classified or it isn’t. The games our federal government plays with information asymmetry are obscene.

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