Segments in this Video

Necessary Torture (02:41)


Producers of the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" are given exclusive access to the CIA version of history. The message is, torture if necessary to attain information that will lead to the main target.

Blockbuster Propaganda (02:31)

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tells a story in opposition to the CIA's. She accesses highly-classified documents, and investigates if torture methods were necessary. In December 2014, this report is made public.

Unlimited Counterterrorism Authority (02:52)

Top CIA lawyer, John Rizzo's name appears more than 200 times in the report. After the attack on September 11, 2001, Rizzo scribbles the words capture, detain, and interrogate. These words are later transformed into a sweeping covert operation.

Formation of Black Sites (02:11)

After the September 11th attacks, CIA agents fear a second attack. Abu Zubaydah is considered a key figure in the al-Qaeda hierarchy. In March of 2002, he is detained in Pakistan and taken to a black site in Thailand.

FBI Interrogation Technique (01:42)

Holding Abu Zubaydah against his will is a new tactic for the CIA. Ali Soufan, an FBI special agent, is called in to interrogate. Zubaydah reveals to FBI officers that a man named Mukhtar is the al-Qaeda mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

SERE Program (02:33)

Washington D.C. sends a message that Soufan is too easy on Zubaydah. Rizzo calls in psychologist James MItchell to overcome Zubaydah's resistance. Mitchel and his partner Bruce Jessen, create an interrogation method inspired by the North Koreans.

FBI Withdraws (01:28)

In Zubaydah's cell, Soufan watches as Mitchell's interrogation theory is put into practice. Soufan's frustrations rise as a confinement box is brought in, and he threatens to arrest Mitchell and Jessen.

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) (02:30)

Mitchell sends a wishlist to CIA headquarters to supply the EIT program. Director George Tenet sees the list and asks Rizzo if EITs are legal. It becomes Rizzo's duty to acquire authorization for EITs.

EITs Approval (02:36)

The CIA faces a moral commitment to protect the United States. Rizzo heads to Washington to sell the EIT program. Lawyers at the Justice Department decide that the techniques are legal. On August 2, 2002, the White House officially authorizes the CIA's Enhanced Interrogation Program.

Psychological Breakdowns (02:56)

On August 4, 2002, MItchell begins Enhanced Interrogation Techniques on Zubayda. After four days of torture, the CIA team decides that it is highly unlikely Zubayda possess the information they are seeking. Operations headquarter orders Mitchell to continue.

High Value Targets (02:08)

For another 11 days, the torture techniques progressively become more intense. The Senate Intelligence report makes clear false accusations the CIA used to approve the use of EITs on Zubayda. CIA headquarters recommends EITs be used on other detainees in the future.

Continued Torture and Death (01:53)

In 2002, the CIA captures and imprisons dozens more detainees, and opens new black sites. Problems arise from inexperience and wartime psychology. Detainee, Gil Rahman dies from hypothermia. The CIA agent in charge is awarded $2,500.

"Let's Roll With the New Guy" (03:21)

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) is captured and he is taken to a black site in Poland. Immediately, Mitchell begins his brutal techniques. KSM is waterboarded 183 times, and the Senate Intelligence report highlights the ineffectiveness of this technique.

Torture at Abu Ghraib (02:18)

In the spring of 2004, images showing the torture of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison surface. Senator John McCain is outraged, and attempts to enact legislation to outlaw EITs.

Criminal Liability (03:31)

Videotapes of Zubayda's interrogation are destroyed by the order of Jose Rodriguez, CIA's top operations officer. In June 2006, the US Supreme Court rules that the detainees held by the US must to be covered by the Geneva Convention.

President of Torture (04:36)

With congressional and public pressure mounting, President George W. Bush gathers his advisors and all but one, Dick Cheney, votes to stop the program. Bush delivers a speech denying that the CIA did anything wrong.

Secret Investigations (03:11)

In 2007, the public learns that the CIA commissioned the destruction of videotapes of early interrogations. The Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Feinstein, decides to launch an independent investigation.

Panetta Review (03:07)

In 2011, the killing of Osama bin Laden re-opens the public debate. The film "Zero Dark Thirty" attempts to tell the CIA's version of the story that EITs led to bin Laden. The Senate Intelligence investigation finds a smoking-gun.

Fighting for History (02:52)

The Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the EIT program was brutal, mismanaged, and ineffective. The CIA dismisses the Panetta Review and harshly criticizes the Senate report.

Credits: Secrets, Politics, and Torture (02:38)

Credits: Secrets, Politics, and Torture

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Secrets, Politics, and Torture

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The movie Zero Dark Thirty portrayed the CIA's controversial "enhanced interrogations"--widely described as torture--as a key to uncovering information that led to the finding and killing of Osama bin Laden. Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with prominent political leaders and CIA insiders, FRONTLINE reveals the many challenges to this version of history. Filmmaker Michael Kirk (United States of Secrets) investigates the agency's top-secret interrogation program: how it began, what it accomplished, and the bitter fight in Washington over the public outing of its existence. The film unspools the dueling versions of history laid out by the CIA, which maintains that its now officially shuttered program was effective in combating terrorism; and by the massive Senate torture report released in December of 2014, which found that the program was brutal, mismanaged, and--most importantly--didn't work. From the CIA's use of black site prisons in Thailand, Lithuania, Afghanistan and Poland, to its destruction of hundreds of hours of videotaped interrogations, to the Senate's standoff with the CIA over the report, Secrets, Politics and Torture, tells the dramatic inside story of one of the CIA's most controversial programs. Distributed by PBS Distribution. 

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL114694

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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