Scott Z. BurnsThe Report (Amazon, 11.5 theatrical, 11.29 streaming) is a diligent but sanctimonious film about the brave, herculean and arduous effort by Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) to research and write a 6000-page report about the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program and the use of torture (“enhanced interrogation techniques”) between October 2001 and December 2007.

It’s a passable, moderately stirring film — the story of a steadfast, determined guy who did a good and valuable thing. Which is nominally inspiring. Burns’ implied message seems to be that “if you hate torture and what the Bush-Cheney team approved for a six-year period in the name of our country, you’ll feel proud and satisfied and perhaps even cleansed by The Report. Because it’s about reclaiming our moral character and authority.”

But as a film it’s not all that interesting. Or at least, it isn’t by my sights. It feels virtuous but plodding. This, at least, was my reaction while watching it last January at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

No one with a shred of morality or decency could or should feel anything but profound regret about the use of torture, okayed by the Bush-Cheney team, to try and extract information from suspected Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden sympathizers. Torture is foul and ugly, and it almost certainly drained this country of whatever moral authority it had to start with.

As most of us know, the detention and interrogation program was authorized by President George Bush six days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and came to an end in December 2007. The use of torture was subsequently prohibited by an Executive Order issued by President Obama when he took office in January 2009.

But nobody knew the details until Jones’ Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, which was researched and authored over a period of three and a half years (March ’09 to December ’12), and was compiled against considerable pushback by many in the D.C. intelligence fraternity.

The report was approved on 12.13.12, but it wasn’t released to the press until 12.9.14.

Total candor: I would nonetheless be less than fully honest if I didn’t confess to being half-inclined to dislike The Report, sight unseen.

Because it seems to represent (in my mind at least) the views of the humanistic, torture-condemning industry cabal that ruthlessly torpedoed the award-season campaign of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal‘s Zero Dark Thirty in late 2012 — arguably the ugliest takedown campaign of the last decade.

(The second ugliest was last year’s attempt by industry wokesters to kill Green Book. But Academy members, to their eternal credit, told these Stalinist bullies and p.c. virtue–signallers to go fuck themselves…that they like or love what Green Book is about and how it made them feel, and to hell with the Twitter scolds.)

The rap against Zero Dark Thirty was that it endorsed torture by depicting EITs in two or three scenes, and by suggesting or implying that in one instance it may have provided information that led to the finding and killing of Osama bin Laden. An expensive sports-car bribe also played a part, the film said.

The fair-minded pro-ZDT crowd (to which I belonged) felt that depicting torture didn’t amount to an endorsement of it. But the takedown crowd covered their ears.

The award-season damage had been done to Zero Dark Thirty by late December of 2012, but two years later information surfaced that seemed to alter the record.

In a 12.9.14 HE piece titled “Will New Torture Data Result In Apology to Bigelow and Boal Over Zero Dark Thirty Takedown?“, I noted the following:

“Early today the CIA posted the first public acknowledgement that (a) Ammar al-Baluch (played by Reda Kateb in Zero Dark Thirty) was [either tortured or threatened with torture], and (b) that Ammar provided the first big clue after torture that led to the finding of Osama’s courier.

Straight from this morning’s CIA disclosure:

“For instance, information that CIA obtained from detainees played a role, in combination with other streams of intelligence, in finding Usama Bin Ladin.

“Information from detainees in CIA custody relating to the involvement of courier Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti in delivering messages to and from Bin Ladin fundamentally changed our assessment of his potential importance to our hunt for Bin Ladin.

“As an example, Ammar al-Baluchi, after undergoing EITs, was the first detainee to reveal that Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti served as a courier for messages from Bin Ladin after Bin Laden had departed Afghanistan. Before that, CIA had only general information that Abu Ahmad had interacted with Bin Ladin before the group’s retreat from Tora Bora in late 2001, when Bin Ladin was relatively accessible to a number of al-Qa’ida figures.”

Does this mean that it was therefore okay for the CIA to torture suspects? No, it doesn’t. Does it mean that Burns’ film and Jones’ report aren’t valuable in and of themselves? No, because they are. But facts are facts.