Prof calls Zero Dark Thirty ‘propaganda film’ for positive depiction of waterboarding

A law professor dismissed Zero Dark Thirty as propaganda in an op-ed on Friday, saying the film portrayed waterboarding in a favorable light by depicting it as a crucial tool in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

A law professor skewered Zero Dark Thirty for allegedly portraying the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in a positive light.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law argued in a Huffington Post editorial on Friday that the controversial technique of waterboarding, which some consider torture, had not in fact lead to the death of Bin Laden.

“After showing footage of the 9/11 attacks, it [the movie] moves into a graphic and lengthy depiction of torture,” she wrote, apparently referring to waterboarding. “Responding to the torture, he divulges the name of the courier who ultimately leads the CIA to Bin Laden’s location and assassination.”

“It may be good theater, but it is inaccurate and misleading,” she concluded.

Cohn’s view of the role of waterboarding in the demise of Bin Laden, however, seems to contradict a description provided by CIA Chief Leon Panetta in 2011 in which he said such enhanced interrogation was critical.

“In the intelligence business you work from a lot of sources of information,” Panetta said in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, following the killing of Bin Laden. “Clearly some of it came from detainees and the interrogation of detainees.”

Cohn also appeared in the column to call for the prosecution of officials in the Bush administration who ordered the use of such techniques.

“[O]bama refuses to hold the Bush officials and lawyers accountable for their law breaking,” she said.

“Armed with full and accurate information, we must engage in an honest discourse about torture and abuse, and hold those who commit those illegal acts fully accountable.”

Cohn is also the author of the book, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse.

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Oliver Darcy
Oliver Darcy | Former Reporter

Oliver Darcy is the former editor of digital media for Campus Reform, where he was tasked with reporting on waste, fraud, and abuse taking place on our nation's college campuses. Additionally, he was responsible for editing the website’s video content and graphic design. Prior to joining the Leadership Institute, Oliver founded, a video driven website dedicated to exposing the inherent failures found at the core of liberal philosophies. He is currently Oliver holds his bachelors of arts degree in political science, with an emphasis in both International Relations and American Politics, from the University of California at Merced.

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