'Zero Dark Thirty': top 3 controversies surrounding the Osama bin Laden film

"Zero Dark Thirty," which tells the story of the hunt and capture of Osama bin Laden, is already garnering critical accolades – and plenty of criticism, too. Here are the top three controversies currently surrounding the film.

By , Staff writer

2. Does the film hype the role of a young female CIA operative said to have spearheaded the hunt?

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    This film image shows Jessica Chastain in a scene from 'Zero Dark Thirty.'
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Not according to Mark Owen, the pen name of a Navy SEAL who wrote “No Easy Day,” which detailed his role in the operation to kill Mr. bin Laden. 

His book describes “Jen” (a pseudonym) as a “wicked smart, kind of feisty” agent recruited by the agency out of college.

Jen had been working on the bin Laden task force for the past five years. “Analysts rotated in and out of the task force, but she stayed and kept after it,” Mr. Owen writes. “She had been our go-to analyst on all intelligence questions related to the target.”

Zero Dark Thirty” stars Jessica Chastain as CIA officer “Maya,” who tracks and ultimately finds bin Laden. 

Owen writes that some Navy SEALs worried that Jen was overconfident after she told them that she was “one hundred percent” certain that bin Laden was “the Pacer.” This was the nickname that agents had given to the person they believed to be bin Laden for the way he would walk around a small area of his compound in Pakistan.

In the Showtime series “Homeland,” actress Claire Danes is widely believed to have based her portrayal of her CIA agent character on Jen as well. 

Ms. Danes told The Wall Street Journal that she had the chance to meet a young female CIA operative at the agency’s offices in Langley, Va., upon whom she “loosely modeled” her role.

Like Danes’s character in “Homeland,” “Jen wasn’t afraid to share her opinion with even the highest officers,” Owen writes. “This was her baby. Jen and her team spent five years tracking [bin Laden] to get us where we were now.”

Ms. Chastain says that the woman she portrays is based on a real person and is still active in the CIA. According to The Washington Post, the agent is now in her 30s, remains undercover, and was awarded the agency’s highest medal – but was denied a promotion.

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