A CIA veteran on what ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ gets wrong about the bin Laden manhunt
By Jose A. Rodriguez Jr.
Published: January 3
Jose A. Rodriguez Jr.is a 31-year veteran of the CIA. He is the author of “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives,” written with former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, who also contributed to this essay.
It is an odd experience to enter a darkened room and, for more than 21 / 2 hours, watch someone tell a story that you experienced intimately in your own life. But that is what happened recently as I sat in a movie theater near Times Square and watched “Zero Dark Thirty,” the new Hollywood blockbuster about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
When I was head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center from 2002 to 2004 and then director of the National Clandestine Service until late 2007, the campaign against al-Qaeda was my life and obsession.
I must say, I agree with both the film critics who love “Zero Dark Thirty” as entertainment and the administration officials and prominent senators who hate the movie for the message it sends — although my reasons are entirely opposite theirs.
Indeed, as I watched the story unfold on the screen, I found myself alternating between repulsion and delight.
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