The Shady Ways Zero Dark Thirty Actually Got Its Sensitive Information

If you're going to bribe someone, the least you could do is bribe them right, that's only fair. This is something the screenwriter and director of Zero Dark Thirty should have kept in mind as they went about bribing CIA officers for information about the raid that cost Osama Bin Laden his life. If there's anything worse than bribing someone, it's bribing them with fake goods.

Vanity Fair ran a story about how Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow – the writer and director of Zero Dark Thirty respectively – reportedly used everything from big ticket meals to fancy trinkets and branded swag to convince CIA officers to divulge inside details of the most famous manhunt of our time. While it must be stressed that the materials provided were deemed "sensitive, unclassified" information, it is also equally important to mention that Boal and Bigelow did not have security clearance of any kind when they received the information. That still doesn't excuse the fact that part of the bribes mentioned in the Vanity Fair piece were an overvalued bottle of tequila and a fake pair of Tahitian pearl earrings.

While Zero Dark Thirty has been in the collective rearview for some time, the film and the mission it was based off of have been a consistent lightning rod for controversy. Though, to be fair, the controversy never really goes anywhere. Not only was any possible prosecution on the CIA's part dropped, but a congressional investigation that was launched around the time of the film lead to nowhere pretty fast as well. Perhaps part of the lack of punishment is the fact that some of the bribes that were issued weren't as fancy as they were made out to be. 

Interestingly enough, Zero Dark Thirty wasn't the only project based on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden that landed in hot water for its loose lips. Around the same time, the developers of Medal Of Honor: Warfighter sought out information from Navy SEALs, and seven SEALs ended up being disciplined for divulging information that they had no right to provide. At this point, don't be surprised of a future film reveals the actual location of Bin Laden's remains to be under Citi Field. 

As talented as Kathryn Bigelow is, she might want to ditch her partners and straighten up a bit. After all, she also happened to direct The Hurt Locker - which itself was at the center of a controversy, albeit that was over Oscar votes. Still, with no official project on her plate as a follow up, she'll have plenty of time to think over what she's done before she ventures back into the world of film. Whatever that next project may be, it'll be interesting to see if it's military related, and how much co-operation she'll receive in that arena.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.