Actor Ed Asner also publicly encouraged fellow members of the voting Academy to vote against the film. "'I would like to condemn the movie," Asner told The New York Times, because the film made it seem that "torture" might have been useful in hunting down Osama bin Laden.
The Times wrote: "Mr. Asner said he and fellow actor Martin Sheen planned to join in a letter, drafted by yet another actor, David Clennon, asking fellow members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to factor in matters of conscience when casting awards votes. 'We hope that 'Zero' will not be honored by Academy (or Guild) members,' said a draft of the letter."
Never mind admissions by members of the Obama administration, including former CIA Director Leon Panetta, that waterboarding "worked." Panetta told NBC's Brian Williams: "Some of the detainees clearly were, you know -- they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees. But I'm also saying that, you know, the debate about whether -- whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always gonna be an open question."
In their defense, director Bigelow and screenwriter Boal say that the film accurately depicts the role that waterboarding played, along with other sources and means, in leading to the killing of bin Laden. The film takes no moral position on the question of waterboarding. To the left, that's not good enough.
It's hard to overstate how offensive the "waterboarding equals torture" crowd finds the assertion that it can ever be of value or that it can ever be justified. "Waterboarding is torture," said President Barack Obama. "It's contrary to America's traditions. It's contrary to our ideals. That's not who we are. That's not how we operate. We don't need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism."
Sen. McCain, subjected to torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, not only calls waterboarding a "mock execution," but insists it "often produces bad intelligence." "You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour," said former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, "and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders."
Again, "Zero Dark Thirty" does not "endorse" waterboarding. Even if it did, whatever happened to artistic license? Remember the tense final scene in "Argo" when Iranian airport security questions the Americans posing as Canadian filmmakers? Never happened. Completely bogus. The Americans actually went through without incident, never having to convince anyone that they were members of a Canadian film crew.
Sens. McCain, Feinstein and Levin sent no letter to the studio demanding clarification. No one from the CIA put out a statement, "'Argo' takes significant artistic license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate."
One more thing. If anyone in the acting community called this attack on the film's artistic integrity a form of "McCarthyism," he or she received little publicity.