Post-Oscars, Senate Intelligence Committee Closes ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Probe

It appears the Senate Intelligence Committee probe into Zero Dark Thirty is over. A Congressional aide today confirmed to Reuters that the Committee led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Carl Levin (D-Mich) has dropped its inquiry into Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-nominated film. The negative campaign from Capitol Hill had plagued the pic in the months leading up to the 85th Academy Awards, where Zero Dark Thirty went home without winning any major awards Sunday night. The Senate Intelligence Committee launched its public battle against the film in December when members issued a letter to Sony Pictures head Michael Lynton that called the film “grossly inaccurate”. The committee subsequently called for an investigation into the propriety of access given by the CIA to Bigelow and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Mark Boal, whose film depicts CIA operatives employing enhanced interrogation practices on detainees. At a WGA nominees panel this month, Boal accused his politician detractors of using Zero Dark Thirty as a “publicity platform”: “You’re talking about an institution that has lower approval ratings than head lice and cockroaches in the American public”, he said, “so I think anything they can do to, in some cases, avoid the issues that they’re voted in to do, they’ll do”.

The Osama bin Laden pic was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay, while Bigelow was snubbed altogether in the Best Director category. Meanwhile, Ben Affleck’s Argo, filmed in collaboration with the U.S. State Department (which endorsed the pic on Twitter before the Oscars) took home the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing.

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