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Morell calls 'Zero Dark Thirty' not realistic in rare CIA public statement

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FILE: Nov. 15, 2012: Acting CIA Director Michael Morell leaves a Senate Intelligence Committee meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington.REUTERS

The CIA has made a rare public statement on the soon-to-be-released film about the capture of Usama bin Laden, "Zero Dark Thirty." 

"I would not normally comment on a Hollywood film, but I think it's important to put (the film,) which deals with one of the most significant achievements in our history, into some context," acting CIA Director Mike Morell said Friday. 

He said the film addresses the successful hunt for bin Laden but in doing so "takes significant artistic license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate."

"What I want you to know is that 'Zero Dark Thirty' is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts," Morell told agency employees in a memo, posted on the agency's web site.

He acknowledged the CIA's public affairs office interacted with the filmmakers but said agency had no control over the final product.

Morell cited several concerns, primarily that the successful hunt for bin Laden was a decade-long effort by hundreds of officers – not just a few agents, as portrayed in the movie.

"The success of the May 1, 2011, operation was a team effort-and a very large team at that," he said.

Morell also argues the film overplays the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in finding bin Laden. 

Morell acknowledged that torture techniques -- such as water boarding -- were used on detainees, but said multiple streams of intelligence led CIA analysts to conclude that bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad. 

"Whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved," he said

In addition, the three members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have written Sony Pictures Entertainment to criticize the film as "grossly inaccurate and misleading" in its suggestion that torture produced the tip that led to bin Laden.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., told President and CEO Michael Lynton, that he has an obligation to say that torture in the hunt for bin Laden was fiction and not based on fact.

The lawmakers said the CIA detainee who provided significant information about bin Laden did so before any harsh interrogation.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.