A northern Michigan author is among a chorus of critics raising questions about the box office hit and Best Picture candidate Zero Dark Thirty, which dramatizes the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden.
Like some members of Congress, Bellaire author and former Navy SEAL team leader Chuck Pfarrer is concerned about improper access to classified materials allegedly given to Director Kathryn Bigelow.
“On June 14, 2011, while the White House was hand-feeding its chosen filmmakers, I filed an official complaint with the Office of the Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency complaining that Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow had been given preferential treatment over other journalists and historians researching the raid,” says Pfarrer, who penned his own version of the Bin Laden raid in SEAL Target Geronimo.
“As of today, my complaint has been ignored by the Inspector General and follow-up requests for information have been stonewalled.”
Relying on his network of SEAL contacts, Pfarrer’s version of the Bin Laden raid is based on information from men who actually participated in the mission, along with extensive research from Pakistani eyewitnesses. It differs from the film, which follows a scenario offered by government officials.
“There was no 45-minute firefight, no helicopter crashing on arrival, no crashing through a gate and fighting up three stories to locate Bin Laden,” Pfarrer tells The Ticker. “In fact, the whole mission took mere minutes. There were only 12 shots fired. The helicopter that crashed, did so as it was preparing to leave the compound, not landing, and, most importantly, the SEAL team landed on the roof of the compound and crashed through a third floor window.”
Pfarrer underwent Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 1981 and spent eight years as a SEAL. He served in Central America, trained NATO forces in Europe and the Mediterranean and undertook duties in the Middle East, notably in Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war. As executive officer of the SEAL team assigned to the multi-national peacekeeping force, he witnessed the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut.
Pfarrer was one of the SEAL team leaders responsible for the apprehension of Abu Abbas and the hijackers of the cruise ship Achille Lauro. Pfarrer ended his service as Assault Element Commander at the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known as SEAL Team 6.
After leaving the military, Pfarrer became a Hollywood screenwriter. His film credits include writing, acting and production work in Navy SEALs, Darkman, and Hard Target. Pfarrer was the screenwriter on The Jackal. His spec screenplays for Virus and Red Planet were also made into movies.
His best-selling autobiography, Warrior Soul, The Memoir of a Navy SEAL, was published by Random House in 2004. Pfarrer has written broadly on terrorism and counter-terrorism, and serves government and industry as an expert on special operations, terrorist operational methodology, counter-proliferation and terrorist employment of weapons of mass destruction.
“When politics is mixed with military history, the result is not often pretty,” says Pfarrer.
“One need only recall the press stories involving Specialist Jessica Lynch, Ranger Pat Tillman or ‘Mission Accomplished’ to know what happens when politicians put their spin on battlefield facts.”