“Secrets, Politics and Torture” tells the deeply disturbing story of an intelligence community’s craven lies
In recent days, there’s been quite a bit of discussion about the 2011 raid in Abottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin laden, based upon reporting by Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books. His story has been greeted with tremendous skepticism by the political establishment and the mainstream press, as were all of his stories going back the My Lai massacre and his early exposÃ©s of the CIA’s spying for years on American citizens back in the 1970s.
(Those stories were eventually proven true, as were many others over the years, up to and including the revelations in 2005 of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. This latest will either be substantiated or forgotten before too long.)
But one of the main contentions in his report, and the one that has been at least somewhat validated by other reporters, is the fact that bin Laden’s whereabouts were not revealed through intelligence operations but rather came from a Pakistani “walk in” who came to claim the large reward for offering up the 9/11 mastermind’s location. If true, that would certainly come as a very big surprise to the millions of people who watched the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.” That film made the case that it was the torture of CIA prisoners that led to the capture of bin Laden.
You’ll recall that the movie was given the official CIA stamp of approval, which had even supplied top-secret classified information at the direction of the head of the agency at the time, Leon Panetta. (Some people, including former CIA interrogator John Kiriakou, who was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for doing far less, wonder why Panetta wasn’t sanctioned for this criminal act.) But according to the Frontline documentary “Secrets, Politics and Torture,” the official story the film depicted was a lie, so perhaps the classified information Panetta and company shared with the “Zero Dark Thirty” production was false as well. It’s not a crime to spread government propaganda. If it were, the entire leadership of the U.S. intelligence services and a fair number of top White House officials would be legally exposed.
The Frontline film, takes a detailed look at the torture program and the saga of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Torture Report, the summary of which was finally released last December.