For over a decade, Osama bin Laden had evaded the CIA’s most advanced efforts to capture him. The discovery of the Abbottabad compound where the al-Qaeda leader was hiding, however, may not have been found if it weren’t for the efforts of one young, junior level agent in designer heels.
The woman has not been identified by the CIA, but the new movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” which is set for release Dec. 19, details the role this woman had in the take down of one of the world’s most hunted men. The filmmakers, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal, were given extensive access to high-ranking government officials, as well as to the woman this movie is based on.
The movie, which has been described as a front-runner for the Academy Award for best picture, explains that “Maya” (the woman’s name in the movie) figured out that the best way to find bin Laden was through his rumored use of a courier network. According to the Daily Mail, the tracking down of known couriers in Afghanistan led to the subsequent discovery of the Abbottabad compound, according to the movie’s reenactment.
Despite her contributions, real-life Maya, according to CIA officials, has been passed up for promotions and awards in the mostly male agency.
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This, much more so than the movie’s degrading emphasis that such an important contribution could come from a woman, illustrates the problematic, patronizing structure of America’s most clandestine agency. An intelligence agency that does not promote its most intelligent agents should be the bigger story this movie reveals.