When Zero Dark Thirty was released last December, director Kathryn Bigelow expected there would be controversy surrounding some of the content in the film. What she didn’t expect was how loud the controversy would be. “The volume of it has really surprised me,” said Bigelow in a recent Q&A with The Economist.
That volume may soon put Bigelow in front of a Senate committee tasked with investigating whether or not the CIA allowed her team access to inappropriate information during their research for the film, which includes depictions of secretive black sites and composites of real-life agents in deep cover.
While Zero Dark Thirty has received numerous accolades for its achievements in portraying what is called “the greatest manhunt in history” it has also polarized critics; some of whom believe it may endorsing torture and other illegal espionage techniques used by the U.S. government during the War on Terror.
One question posed to Bigelow was do the ends justify the means? Would we have been able to track down individuals like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Osama bin Laden without the use of the detainee program? While she declined to suggest the film justified the use of torture, the following clip from an Open Society Foundation talk says there are zero exceptions to international law and that the War on Terror brought out the ugly side of “American Exceptionalism.”
In this next clip from the New Yorker Festival, former CIA operative Robert Baer discusses whether or not the ends justify the means in espionage.