Mike Pompeo's Denunciation of 'The Report' Prompts Response From Film's Director

Director Scott Z. Burns has publicly questioned what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo considered to be "fiction" in his new film The Report, which depicts the real-life events that led to a 6,700-page report by the Senate Intelligence Committee outlining the CIA's former torture program.

On Friday, Pompeo, who previously served as the director of the CIA, criticized the film.

"I watched 'The Report.' Fiction. To be clear: the bad guys are not our intelligence warriors. The bad guys are the terrorists," he wrote. "To my former colleagues and all of the patriots at @CIA who have kept us safe since 9/11: America supports you, defends you and has your back. So do I."

I watched “The Report.” Fiction. To be clear: the bad guys are not our intelligence warriors. The bad guys are the terrorists. To my former colleagues and all of the patriots at @CIA who have kept us safe since 9/11: America supports you, defends you and has your back. So do I.

— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 27, 2019

Burns responded to the secretary of state's criticism, calling Pompeo's notion of patriotism "misguided."

"I am grateful to Secretary of State Pompeo for taking the time to watch The Report movie on Amazon Prime. I hope he will go back and read the [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] report as well," the director said in the statement, Deadline reported on Saturday.

"I am interested in knowing what part he finds to be fiction and I ask him to join me in calling for the release of the Panetta Review which the CIA conducted into the [enhanced interrogation technique] program so that this dispute can be resolved," Burns continued. "I agree with him that terrorists are bad guys— as are the people who conducted barbaric and ineffective acts of torture in the name of Mr. Pompeo's misguided notion of 'Patriotism' and then misled Congress and the American people."

Newsweek has reached out to the press office of the State Department for a response from Pompeo.

Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks about human rights in Iran, at the State Department on December 19 in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson/Getty

The highly controversial CIA torture program, which the administration of George W. Bush dubbed "enhanced interrogation techniques," was ended by an executive order from President Barack Obama in January 2009. Bush, who had authorized and defended the use of torture, vetoed a 2008 bipartisan bill that would have put a stop to many of the worst torture techniques used by the CIA.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on the torture program, which was partially released publicly in 2014, concluded that the interrogation techniques were "not an effective way to gather intelligence information." Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, who was then the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the intelligence agency's actions "a stain on our values and on our history" during a speech with the release of the report's executive summary.

The new Burns film was released in theaters in the U.S. on November 15 and later began streaming on Amazon Prime on November 29. Its world premiere was held at the Sundance Film Festival back in January. The film stars actor Adam Driver, a former Marine, as Daniel Jones, who led the investigation into the CIA's use of torture.

“The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow.” - Senator John McCain, 12/9/2014. Resources for @SecPompeo -
(1) @thereportmovie Annotated Script with Sourcing Information: https://t.co/7MJNJQoJUG https://t.co/XtTnhBqllf

— DanielJJones (@DanielJJonesUS) December 28, 2019

Jones himself responded to Pompeo's criticism of the film by quoting directly from the State Department's official policy on torture.

"U.S State Department, June 16, 2019: 'Not only is torture unlawful, it is morally wrong. Torture is prohibited by international law and is incompatible with the values that define us as a people,'" he posted to Twitter. In a follow-up tweet, Jones quoted the late Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, who was a prominent critic of the torture program. McCain said in 2014: "The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow."