Secretary Leon Panetta, who as CIA director oversaw the U.S. operation that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, said during a television interview on Sunday morning that the scenes in the Oscar-nominated motion picture, "Zero Dark Thirty," are inaccurate and that garnering intelligence from suspected terrorists could have been achieved without resorting to enhanced interrogation techniques that some call torture.
The outgoing defense secretary, in remarks aired Sunday on the NBC program "Meet the Press," said there had been many pieces to solving the "puzzle" that located bin Laden, who was held responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
"Yes, some of it came from some of the tactics that were used at that time -- interrogation tactics that were used," said Panetta, who served as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2009 until he became U.S. defense secretary on July 1, 2011.
"I think we could have gotten Bin Laden without that," Panetta added in response to a question about what the interviewer called enhanced interrogation or torture.
But the filmmaker, Katherine Bigalow, was given full access to the CIA who shared information regarding their hunt for al-Qaeda's iconic leader with the blessing of President Barack Obama, who some claim hoped for a positive portrayal in the motion picture.
"Personally, I believe the movie version of events because the people who actually hunted and located and exterminated bin Laden are saying bin Laden demise was achieved through such methods as waterboarding," said former military intelligence officer and police detective Mike Snopes.
"With all due respect, Panetta, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other complainers weren't there. How the heck do they know what methods were used to collect pieces of the puzzle that led to the end of terrorism's public enemy number one?" Snopes asked.
Some CIA veterans have defended the use of harsh techniques such as sleep deprivation, hypothermia, stress positions, slapping and waterboarding, to obtain information that helped get bin Laden. Waterboarding, in which a drowning sensation is inflicted on a captive, is often described as torture by liberal-left politicians and activists.
Members of the U.S. Congress have also accused Central Intelligence Agency officials of providing misleading information to the makers of the Osama bin Laden raid motion picture "Zero Dark Thirty." The lawmakers allege that the CIA told movie director Kathryn Bigalow and her writers that harsh interrogation techniques helped counterterrorists in tracking down the terrorist leader, according to a number of news organizations including the Miami Herald.
Scenes from Bigalow's thriller show waterboarding and similar techniques and the film insinuates they were important in the eventual locating of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, where he was killed by Navy SEAL Team Six in May 2011.
A Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the CIA's detainee program asserts that the U.S. use of "torture" produced no useful intelligence, despite military, intelligence and law enforcement officials who've claimed waterboarding and threats of violence against suspects helped gain intelligence.
Even the CIA's top chief, Acting Director Michael Morell, has contradicted the Senate's finding, which many experts believe is more politically-motivated than substantive.
In a statement last month to employees, Morell said that in his opinion the filmmakers were wrong to depict harsh techniques as key to finding bin Laden, but those interrogations did produce some useful intelligence.
In a letter to the CIA, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) John McCain (R-Ariz.), and others asked Morell to back up his claim and to share documents showing what the filmmakers were told.
They demanded that Morell provide what information was acquired from CIA detainees and when.
"Prior to, during, or after the detainee was subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques? If after, how long after?" they asked.
The senators claimed that the CIA detainee who provided the most accurate information about the courier who was tracked to bin Laden's hideout "provided the information [before] being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques," according to Feinstein.
But Law Enforcement Examiner spoke to men and women who are trained interrogators and they said that Sen. McCain is once again attempting to call CIA interrogators "torturers."
"Even during the Bush administration, McCain and Democrats Durbin, Levin, and Rockefeller often referred to CIA and other interrogators as being 'torturers,'" said Snopes.
"While the people really fighting the war on terrorism never even mention the word 'torture,' the mainstream media keep it on the front pages of newspapers, on the covers of newsmagazines and as lead stories on news broadcasts whenever possible," Snopes noted.
"Should we believe the experts or the lawmakers and their media lapdogs? I believe the experts who actually are involved in fighting terrorism and protecting Americans, not this bunch of preening, sanctimonious politicians and their media stenographers," he added.