In the 2012 film “Zero Dark Thirty,” a CIA analyst led a 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, which finally ended when an old clue led her team to his doorstep. Known as Maya in the drama, the agent also identified bin Laden’s body after a U.S. Navy Seal team killed him during a raid in Pakistan.
The Business Insider reported that the real life story of the agent is much more complicated and not so glorified. The woman, only identified as Frances, has been outed by the news media, who has also shared her ties with the torture of suspects and a missed opportunity to thwart the 9/11 attacks.
Several outlets of the press have agreed to only use her middle name as both her first and last names are easily identifiable as they are unusual. The CIA has argued for years against naming the agent.
“We would strongly object to attaching anyone’s name given the current environment,” CIA representative Ryan Trapani told The Intercept, a website whose stated mission is “to produce fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues.” In a follow-up voicemail, he added, “There are crazy people in this world and we are trying to mitigate those threats.”
Glenn Greenwald and Peter Maass replied, “The Intercept is naming the analyst over CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency’s use of torture, and her active participation in the torture program including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee. Moreover, the analyst has already been publicly identified by news organizations as the CIA officer responsible for many of these acts.”
“Her name was redacted at least three dozen times in an effort to avoid publicly identifying her,” according to NBC News. “In fact, much of the four-month battle between Senate Democrats and the CIA about redactions centered on protecting the identity of the woman, an analyst and later ‘deputy chief’ of the unit devoted to catching or killing Osama bin Laden. She is no stranger to controversy, as she was criticized after 9/11 terrorist attacks for countenancing a subordinate’s refusal to share the names of two of the hijackers with the FBI prior to the terror attacks. But instead of being sanctioned, she was promoted.”
Writing in The New Yorker under the headline “The Unidentified Queen of Torture,” Jane Mayer reports that the analyst, who is still in a position of high authority over counterterrorism at the CIA, “appears to have been a source of years’ worth of terrible judgment, with tragic consequences for the United States.”
“She dropped the ball when the CIA was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the CIA on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked,” wrote Mayer.
Through it all, the CIA analyst is still working as the head of the CIA’s Global Jihad unit, with a civilian rank equivalent to a military general.