POLITICS: PennAve

'Zero Dark Thirty' becomes an issue in 9/11 war crimes trial

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Movies,The Pentagon,CIA,September 11 Terrorist Attacks,PennAve,Tim Mak,Guantanamo Bay,Cuba,Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA — It could be a blockbuster.

The trial judge in the case of five men accused of 9/11 war crimes indicated Thursday that a motion about the popular 2012 film "Zero Dark Thirty" could be heard Friday.

Shortly after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal reached out to officials at the Pentagon and CIA to gather information for a movie script chronicling the notorious terrorist's death. In April, the CIA declassified a memo that revealed that the detainee who was violently tortured in "Zero Dark Thirty" was modeled after Guantanamo detainee Ammar al Baluchi.

The motion, by Baluchi’s defense team, would compel the prosecution to produce all communications between U.S. officials and those filmmakers.

“It’s really insulting that the information goes to somebody in the entertainment industry, who maybe can make the administration look good, but it doesn’t go to the [people who are] charged with defending the guy’s life,” said James Connell, an attorney for al Baluchi.

So far, the prosecution has provided no classified information to the defense team, including any documentation of Baluchi's treatment before 2006.

“The prosecution has turned over no discovery whatsoever about the treatment of Mr. al Baluchi in CIA custody,” he said. “But they did provide at least some information to the filmmakers of 'Zero Dark Thirty,' and if we could get that information, it would be more than we have now."

Connell accused the government of selectively declassifying information to create a “curated narrative” about the treatment of detainees in CIA custody — one that justifies the use of enhanced interrogation techniques by playing up the evil nature of al Qaeda suspects.

“Mr. al Baluchi was tortured, too, but the facts of how he was tortured are classified," the lawyer said. "If we could bring some of those facts into the public, it would break that curated narrative.”

In its motion, the defense said it wants to call as witnesses movie screenwriter Mark Boal, outgoing Pentagon spokesman George Little and CIA staffer Martha Lutz.

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