'Zero Dark Thirty': Sept. 11 Families Denounce Anti-Torture Critics

Jonathan Olley/Columbia Pictures

An organization repping relatives of 9/11 victims issues a statement supporting Kathryn Bigelow's controversial film against "badmouthing" by Hollywood activists, media pundits and politicians.

Families of Sept. 11 victims are denouncing what they view as critics' "censorship" of the hotly debated torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal's controversial film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

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The group 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims issued a statement Thursday in support of the movie, condemning those who complain that it justified torture as an effective means of tracking down and finally killing bin Laden. In its missive, the organization calls out the following: Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, who are opening an investigation into whether the CIA leaked documents to director Bigelow and screenwriter Boal to help craft the plot; actors David Clennon, Ed Asner and Martin Sheen, who joined forces in protest of the film's purported tolerance of torture (Sheen has since distanced himself from the Clennon-led campaign, citing a misunderstanding); and also "a few pundits" and "film critics" with negative opinions of the grisly waterboarding scenes.

The statement, in full:

As a group of 9/11 families sharing a rare moment of justice and elation in the viewing of a film chronicling the search for and ultimate death of Osama Bin Laden, we find it deeply disturbing that some of our elected officials want to discourage other 9/11 families and the public from seeing this outstanding film. Politicians who have criticized the movie and made misleading claims about it, stand in the way of engaging a public dialogue for a stirring film which invokes feelings of patriotism and perseverance and honors our military, our country, and the victims of 9/11.

We are greatly concerned that a few pundits, "film critics" and elected officials are badmouthing this movie because of the water boarding scenes and because this film directly confronts the enduring terrorist threat.

We feel this is history - like it or not -and no effort should be made to rewrite or censor it for political correctness. Certainly there should be no organized boycott or suppression of films based on political differences. The word for that is "censorship." How bizarre that members of an industry that suffered so much during the McCarthy era would even consider doing this to their own members!

The use of the term "torture" by elected officials in hopes of dissuading people to endorse or view this film is antithetical to what our government should be all about.

As 9/11 family members whose loved ones were massacred at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, we applaud Mark Boal and Katherine Bigelow for presenting a film that honors history, our military, our country, and the victims of 9/11 - through the excellent portrayal of how the US government and Navy Seals worked to apprehend OBL. There is still a constitutional right to freedom of speech in our country, and censoring a film is totally un American and against the tenets of our founding fathers. This film inspires dialogue and no elected official can censor any film. We do not want to allow Senators Feinstein, Levin, and McCain or actors David Clennon and9/11 Truthers Ed Asner and Martin Sheen - to inhibit our fellow Americans from seeing " Zero Dark Thirty." Our loved ones died for these freedoms on 9/11 - and no one should ever try to abridge them. All citizens should see this film and make their own decisions about its value. This is what democracy is about.