May 19: “Secrets, Politics and Torture” | Press Release + Trailer

FRONTLINE Investigates the CIA’s Secret Interrogation Program

When Zero Dark Thirty premiered in 2012, the Hollywood film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden became a blockbuster hit.

The CIA worked with the filmmakers, and the movie portrayed the agency’s controversial “enhanced interrogations” — widely described as torture — as a key to uncovering information that led to the finding and killing of bin Laden.

But in Secrets, Politics and Torture[1], premiering May 19 on PBS, FRONTLINE reveals the many challenges to this version of history, and the inside story of how it came to be.

Secrets, Politics and Torture airs Tuesday, May 19 at 10/9c on PBS (check local listings[2]) and will stream in full, for free, online at

Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with prominent political leaders and CIA insiders, Secrets, Politics and Torture is a deep investigation of the agency’s top-secret interrogation program: how it began, what it accomplished, and the bitter fight in Washington over the public outing of its existence.

“We’ve found that, faced with 9/11 and the fear of a second attack, everybody from the head of the CIA, to the Justice Department, to the president asked ‘Can we do it?’ — meaning, can we do it legally — not, ‘Should we do it?’,” says veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk (The Torture Question[3], Bush’s War[4], Losing Iraq[5], United States of Secrets[6]).

The film unspools the dueling versions of history laid out by the CIA, which maintains that its now officially-shuttered program was effective in combating terrorism, and the massive Senate torture report released in December of 2014, which found that the program was brutal, mismanaged and — most importantly — didn’t work.

For example: The Senate concluded that the CIA’s first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, was not actually a senior member of Al Qaeda. And Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was a high-level Al Qaeda operative, admitted that he lied to interrogators who were waterboarding him.

1 2 3 4