The Oscar-winning film “Zero Dark Thirty” became a prestigious awards vehicle for its co-creators, journalist-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow. It also became a source of controversy for making the cinematic suggestion that torture got the U.S. somewhere in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Now, as VICE News reported Wednesday, critics have even more reason to look askance at the 2012 big-screen production, particularly because of the uncomfortably close relationship between Boal, Bigelow and U.S. intelligence operatives:

The previously undisclosed detail about Boal’s phone call to the CIA was included in more than 100 pages of internal CIA documents obtained exclusively by VICE News in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. The documents contain the most detailed information to date about the controversial role the CIA played in the production of Zero Dark Thirty (ZDT).

Included in the trove of redacted agency records is a March 2014 CIA Office of Inspector General report titled “Alleged Disclosure of Classified Information by Former D/CIA” — D/CIA refers to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta — and a separate September 2013 report from the inspector general’s office titled “Potential Ethics Violations Involving Film Producers.”

The ethics report contains remarkable details about how Bigelow and Boal gave CIA officers gifts and bought them meals at hotels and restaurants in Los Angeles and Washington, DC — much of which initially went unreported by the CIA officers — how they won unprecedented access to secret details about the bin Laden operation, and how they got agency officers and officials to review and critique the ZDT script.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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