To create their Oscar-nominated film about the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ writer Mark Boal and the director Kathryn Bigelow made friends in the CIA.
According to the Vice report, a number of CIA employees who were involved in the real-life hunt for Osama bin Laden, whose death at the hands of US Navy Seals is the centrepiece of the film, consulted with director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal.
Declassified documents from 2013 revealed Boal vetted CIA members for feedback and made changes accordingly, such as removing a scene where an agent drunkenly fires his AK-47 into the air. He also made Maya, the movie's main character, less involved in torture scenes.
The documents suggest officers received gifts including expensive meals, painted pearl earrings valued at around $60, and a bottle of tequila worth $169. Boal was invited to a classified awards ceremony for participants in the hunt for Bin Laden. CIA director Leon Panetta later told investigators he had no knowledge of the film-maker’s attendance.
In the wake of the report, the C.I.A. asked the Department of Justice to prosecute Boal and Bigelow for bribing public officials, but were declined and given the suggestion of taking "administrative action" on their end. The officers themselves were not punished, due to the report finding a general lack of guidance regarding gifts on the agency's part, and the fact that they did not leak any classified information.