Can Adam Driver Make Americans Care About CIA Torture Again?

A new movie, The Report, documents the Senate struggle to inform the public about our wartime waterboarding and "enhanced interrogations."


It's been nearly five years since the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, after a long fight with the CIA and a reluctant Obama administration, released part of a heavily redacted report that described the extent of CIA abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report determined that the torture failed to gather new intelligence and was much more brutal than policy makers had been told.

Now that fight to investigate the CIA and release that information to the public has been dramatized in a movie, The Report, which Amazon Pictures is distributing to theaters November 15. Adam Driver (a.k.a. Kylo Ren in the new Star Wars trilogy) stars as Daniel J. Jones, the real-life lead investigator and author of the Senate's report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Annette Bening portrays Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.), who as then-head of the intelligence committee commissioned the investigation and fought for the public release of part of the report.

Here's the trailer that dropped yesterday:

The movie had its public premiere back in January at the Sundance Film Festival, and it received generally positive reviews. It's the anti–Zero Dark Thirty, highlighting how the CIA attempted to cover up its torture of terror suspects and then inaccurately insisted that this torture garnered valuable useful intelligence. According to a review at IndieWire, the movie specifically references Zero Dark Thirty, which has been criticized for allowing CIA officials to manipulate the story. The reference is apparently not a positive one. (The reason the movie's official title is so vague is because the word "Torture" is redacted in the marketing imagery for The Report.)

While the torture began under President George W. Bush, the fight to investigate the CIA's tactics and report out the results took place under President Barack Obama. According to Vanity Fair reviewer Richard Lawson, The Report does not shy away from the role Obama's administration played in attempting to keep this information out of public view:

What the investigation uncovers is horrifying: not only did the C.I.A. do this stuff, but the agency pretty quickly knew that it didn't yield any real intel. Yet it continued anyway, essentially to save face. What The Report also details is how the nascent Obama administration, though it swiftly ended the enhanced interrogation program after the inauguration, nonetheless worked to stifle the report in order to maintain a harmonious relationship with the C.I.A. If you aren't already frustrated with the knotted, gunky, favor-trading mechanics of Washington politics, here's The Report to give you another dose.

When the torture report initially dropped five years ago, I read as much as the redactions allowed and noted that outside the horrifying details of what the CIA actually did—not just waterboarding, but forced enemas, slamming people into walls, slapping them, and freezing them—much of the 500-page document was devoted to the complicated, opaque bureaucratic apparatus that shielded everybody from responsibility, even when the CIA secretly surveilled the Senate staffers putting the report together to find out what CIA records they were looking at.

Ultimately, after a round of news coverage of the worst details in the report—and some limp attempts by CIA officials to find fault with it, though more than a year later they quietly admitted the facts in the report were true—interest in the report faded. Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Donald Trump declared his support for waterboarding suspected terrorists.

Lawson wonders how well the movie will perform, given that Amazon apparently paid $14 million for the global rights. As horrible as that torture was, it seems almost quaint now that we are abusing and neglecting detained immigrants in terrible conditions right here, right now, in the United States, and they're dying.

I'll be heading out to the movies in November to see how well The Report covers the details, politics, and bureaucratic ass-covering that took place back then. I might be pretty lonely in the theater, though.

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  1. Annette Bening portrays Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.)

    Wow, she has fallen hard.

    1. I don’t know about that, playing a sociopath worked for Anthony Hopkins.

      1. Lecter just killed and ate people. We’re talking about a progressive democrat senator here. Far worse.

    2. If one of the hijackers had just showed up in the ER with cutaneous anthrax, which would not be “skin irritation “ or a single lesion and not been diagnosed and aggressively treated he would probably have died…… Read More

    3. Who plays her driver, the Chinese spy?

      1. Jackie Chan

  2. Dude’s a good actor – but he couldn’t make me care about Star Wars again.

    1. Agreed, sadly.

  3. Darth Vader II is an EXCELLENT spokesman for being anti-torture!

    1. Frozen Han Solo approved this message.

    2. But enough about James Earl Jones.

      Oh THAT Star Wars.

  4. Annette Bening portrays Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.), who as then-head of the intelligence committee commissioned the investigation and fought for the public release of part of the report.

    I seem to recall that Feinstein’s first reaction to the intelligence leaks was to retroactively legalize everything the intelligence community was doing under the guise of her proposed “FISA Improvements Act” and only became “shocked” by their gross abuses when she found out they were spying on her as well, just as if she were a normal person instead of a member of the ruling class.

  5. The answer to the headline depends on if the movie can somehow makes this all about Trump.

  6. I honestly don’t think this is the right movie for the Drumpf Era.

    George W. Bush has long been out of office. Furthermore, many of the early 2000s neocons who influenced American foreign policy — David Frum, Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and so on — have reinvented themselves as part of #TheResistance. Their mistakes from 15 to 20 years ago should be forgiven in order to maintain a united anti-Drumpf movement.


    1. The h_ll referenced here is CIA “policy”, and they and other Intel are scarier than ever, without sufficient checks and balances, and without valid, reliable, and verifiable oversight. THEY ARE NONPARTISAN IN THEIR ACTIONS. Obama was one of the worst to kowtow to them, and Trump appears afraid … What happened to DRAIN the swamp … Intel is a huge part of it… This movie is the type of wake-up call we should have everyday until we get back to Our Constitution, Due Process, and Security of Our Persons, Homes, Papers, and Effects… Eisenhower and Truman could be giving their warnings today and they would be spot-on, with things even worse. Hong Kong has nothing on this h_ll here, and WE should all be protesting.

      Fact is, the CIA and military may well be running the Country, and anything permitting that has to be stopped. As Kiriakou stated, as career employees, they just wait out presidents or orders they don’t like, unless they kill the person, or like the FBI, try to undermine the election process. They are well out of control, and overlook that this Constitutional Republic is Of, By, and For The People. Trump told O’Reilly that we have “a lot of killers”, and we do, in and out of medical facilities. See the Link to this video at my site Links page,

      This link also provides more prospective: Demand that ALL the CIA JFK files are released. Demand protection for all patients, and all of us. See Medical-Military under Home and Comments under Outreach for more on hospital injection killings, and outside use of high-level biologics, whereby after ingestion, home or restaurant, etc. one just doesn’t wake up. Demand cameras in ALL patient rooms as an option, and real-time monitoring of injected/ingested chemicals and biologics. Tumor markers are being falsified so that by the time a person knows of disease or progression, it is too late to cure, and the cost $$$ to treat is higher. People are killed for any number of reasons, from retaliation, hate, experimentation, need for student cadavers, and possibly body parts. Demand tumor markers and other labs are available without MD approval, and using a pseudonym. The Medical industry is far too powerful for its own good as well as the people’s. Demand that the CIA is OUT of our schools! Protest with me in Miami, or wherever you are, before it is too late. Send protest pics and I’ll post.

      1. Hear, hear!

  7. I’m guessing not, because Trump’s in office and they don’t even care about War anymore. That’s how much damage Obama did to the anti-war movement.

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  9. This is not the good movie you’re looking for….

  10. What in the name of all that is right and holy does CIA torture have to do with potential ill treatment of detainees that crossed our borders illegally? No one is being detained that didn’t come here fully cognizant that they might be detained.

    That the government is struggling with caring for the tens of thousands that came in response to the invitation provided by lunatic open borders advocates is not, in any way, comparable to torture. If they want their detention to stop, all they have to do is go home.

    On the other hand, all of those tortured had nowhere to turn for relief. If the information they provided was disbelieved or believed to be insufficient, the torture continued, but when it ended, all they had to look forward to is indefinite detention in Guantanamo Bay. When the detainees here have their cases adjudicated, they will either be set free with asylum or sent home. But no one is freezing, slapping, slamming, coffining, chaining them in stress positions or water boarding them and no one is destroying the video tapes of their torture, or spying on the Senate to prevent an investigation or lying to Congress about it (Clapper).

    Finally, we lived in a rich and mostly free country because of the size and relatively small population. This fact was noted by Franklin before the founding. Inviting the third world here will not increase our well being, it will only normalize us down. While immigration is a laudable thing, in and of itself, unfettered immigration is not. Trump is a horrible person and his policies are repugnant, but in this one thing, he’s 100% correct. Only those who merit immigration, have citizen relatives willing to sponsor their family, or those truly in fear for their lives should be allowed in.

    1. The CIS never tortured anyone. They only used enhanced interrogation techniques. Big difference. And we don’t have any need to sweat information out of illegals, so I don’t k ow what that has to do with anything at all.

  11. Nobody cares.

  12. Can he make them care about it again? No. Because in order to care about it again, they would have to have cared about it at some time previously.

  13. Personally, I don’t think the torture was ever about gaining intelligence. It was all about vengeance. That’s why you’ll never make a dent in public opinion by arguing that it didn’t gain intel.

    Vengeance is not a constitutionally acceptable rationale though, so we have to pretend we’re motivated by some nobler concern. But you’ll never convince me that we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times in one month “for intelligence purposes”.

  14. It was the end of reason , when we concluded that torture doesn’t work. It’s awful. ugly, criminal….and it works.

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