Coming to Internet: CIA film about 2 held in China

AP News
Posted: Jun 02, 2011 11:39 AM
Coming to Internet: CIA film about 2 held in China

A CIA-produced documentary about a secret mission in China, never aired outside the agency's headquarters, is coming to the Internet.

The agency plans a public release of the film about two CIA officers captured during a secret mission in 1952 and held for years.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the film under the Freedom of Information Act.

The hourlong film, "Extraordinary Fidelity," blends documentary footage and re-enactments to tell the story of the officers shot down trying to recover a spy working for the CIA in the Manchuria region of northeastern China.

The two pilots of the plane died, but the CIA officers _ Richard G. Fecteau of Lynn, Mass., and John T. Downey of New Britain, Conn. _ were eventually freed in 1971 and 1973, respectively.

The film is the first CIA movie produced for internal audiences that has been released to the public. The CIA made it available nearly one year after the AP filed a FOIA request for a copy. The agency still has not said how much it cost or what director Paul Wimmer was paid. The agency said it is continuing to process this part of the request.

The CIA says it plans to upload the video to its YouTube channel on the web.

A big theme of the film is the behind-the-scenes efforts by CIA officials in Washington, throughout the men's imprisonment, to keep their financial affairs in order and provide assistance to their families.

It features re-enactments of important scenes, including the ambush and the men's harsh interrogations at the hands of the Chinese. Some portions were filmed at a former insane asylum in Petersburg, Va.; Fecteau and Downey themselves talk at length about their imprisonment.

The film was produced by the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence and first shown almost a year ago at CIA headquarters.

The CIA planned to show the movie to the public Thursday night at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

Wimmer produced and directed a 2002 Discovery Channel documentary on the Sept. 11 attacks, "Pentagon Under Fire."

He was a consulting producer for a 2009 National Geographic Channel documentary, "Great Escape: The Final Secrets," about American prisoners during World War II.


Follow Adam Goldman at