The Amazon Studios drama centers on the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation or torture.
On Friday Pompeo tweeted: “I watched The Report. Fiction. To be clear: the bad guys are not our intelligence warriors. The bad guys are the terrorists. To my former colleagues and all of the patriots at @CIA who have kept us safe since 9/11: America supports you, defends you and has your back. So do I.”
Burns took issue with the way Pompeo defended the CIA’s work as patriotic, and called the secretary of state’s comments “misguided.”
The movie chronicles the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigation that led to the 2014 release of a report on the CIA’s use of torture in the war on terror. It follows Daniel Jones (Adam Driver), who was lead investigator for the committee, then chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), played by Annette Bening.
In his statement, Burns said, “I am grateful to Secretary of State Pompeo for taking the time to watch The Report movie on Amazon Prime. I hope he will go back and read the [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] report as well. I am interested in knowing what part he finds to be fiction and I ask him to join me in calling for the release of the Panetta Review which the CIA conducted into the [enhanced interrogation technique] program so that this dispute can be resolved. I agree with him that terrorists are bad guys— as are the people who conducted barbaric and ineffective acts of torture in the name of Mr. Pompeo’s misguided notion of ‘Patriotism’ and then misled Congress and the American people.”
The Panetta review is an internal report that was led by then-CIA director Leon Panetta of the use of torture during the administration of President George W. Bush.
The controversy over The Report has echoes to that over Zero Dark Thirty in 2012.
Back then, Feinstein, the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) were vocal in their criticisms of the movie because they believed it gave the impression that the CIA’s use of torture was beneficial in finding Osama Bin Laden.
As the movie was being released, the senators fired off a letter to then Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, calling the film “inaccurate.” Their concern was that the movie was “misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden.” They cited the Intelligence Committee investigation into the use of torture.
Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal defended the film and said in a statement at the time that it “shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes.”
Michael Morell, who was acting CIA director at the time, also weighed in, but was more measured in his response.
He called the movie a “dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts.” He refuted the idea that enhanced interrogation was the “key to finding Bin Laden,” but also did not entirely dismiss whether torture yielded information. He said in a statement that “enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved.”