Security breach alleged in making of bin Laden raid film
Homeland Security chair concerned over Kathryn Bigelow film
A House committee chairman charged Wednesday in Washington that the CIA and Defence Department jeopardized national security by co-operating too closely with filmmakers producing a movie on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King. R-N.Y., first raised questions about the bin Laden movie last summer, but said newly released documents confirm his suspicions.
The filmmakers are director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, who won Academy Awards for the motion picture The Hurt Locker.
King referred to documents obtained by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act request. He said the filmmakers received "extremely close, unprecedented and potentially dangerous collaboration" from the Obama administration.
Judicial Watch said the documents show that the Defence Department granted Bigelow and Boal access to a "planner, operator and commander of SEAL Team 6" — the unit that killed bin Laden in Pakistan.
Other documents, Judicial Watch said, show that the filmmakers met with White House officials on at least two occasions about the film. A CIA email indicates that Bigelow and Boal were granted access to "the vault," which is described as the CIA building where some of the tactical planning for the raid took place, Judicial Watch said.
Pentagon press secretary George Little disputed some of the allegations. He said that while a planner was suggested as a possible point of contact for information on the bin Laden raid, a meeting between that planner and the filmmakers never occurred.
He said the Defence Department engages on a regular basis with the entertainment industry on movie projects, and the goal is to "make them as realistic as possible. We believe this is an important service that we provide."
Little added that Pentagon officials did meet with producers of the film but said, "We have never reviewed a script of the movie."
Little also denied that the co-operation was an attempt to boost President Barack Obama's election chances, and said the movie would not be out until after the election. Sony Pictures confirmed that the projected release date of the movie is Dec. 19.
CIA spokesman Preston Golson disputed the allegation that the filmmakers were given access to a secret "vault."
"Virtually every office and conference room in our headquarters is called a 'vault' in agency lingo," he said. The 'vault' in question, that had been used for planning the raid, was empty at the time of the filmmakers' visit."
Golson added, "The CIA has been open about our engagement with writers, documentary filmmakers, movie and TV producers, and others in the entertainment industry. Our goal is an accurate portrayal of the men and women of the CIA, their vital mission and the commitment to public service that defines them. The protection of national security equities is always paramount in any engagement with the entertainment industry."
The spokesman said that when appropriate, the CIA arranges visits to the agency for unclassified meetings.
There was no immediate comment from the White House.