CIA Memo Shows Mark Boal Changed 'Zero Dark Thirty' at Agency's Request
"Zero Dark Thirty" screenwriter Mark Boal acquiesced to CIA requests to change material in the film that would have reflected poorly on the agency, according to a newly declassified memo.
The drama's depiction of the role torture played in the hunt for Osama bin Laden set off fierce debate when it theaters last year, although much of the furor surrounding the film died down after it lost the Oscar for Best Picture to "Argo."
Those issues may bubble up again now that the memo from an unnamed public affairs officer has been released to Gawker under a Freedom of Information Act request. It shows Boal agreeing to delete or alter scenes that the spy service objected to.
"The purpose for these discussions was for OPA officers to help promote an appropriate portrayal of the Agency and the Bin Ladin operation," the memo reads.
A spokesman for Boal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a series of conference calls in the fall of 2011, Boal agreed to change a scene that would have shown the CIA agent portrayed by Jessica Chastain assisting in enhanced interrogation of a detainee. He did so because the agency objected to its accuracy.
Boal also agreed to delete a scene that would have shown CIA officers using dogs as part of interrogations and to excise a rooftop party scene that involved an officer firing an AK-47 into the air after drinking cocktails. Again, the changes were made because they were deemed inaccurate.
"We insisted mixing drinking and firearms is a major violation and actions like this do not happen in real life," the memo reads.