Wednesday, August 10, 2011

King questions White House cooperation in Bin Laden Film

From the Politico:
House Homeland Security Commitee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) is asking for investigations into whether Obama administration officials are sharing classified information with movie producers planning a feature film about the May 1 raid that killed Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

In a letter [Link -PDF file] Tuesday to the inspectors general of the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, King pointed to reports that director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal are getting special access to the Navy SEALs and others involved for a Sony Pictures film...

King noted that in the wake of a series of authorized briefings and leaks soon after the raid, top officials including Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen and former Central Intelligence Agency director (now Defense Secretary) Leon Panetta complained that such disclosures could jeopardize future missions. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that the White House breached an agreement not to provide further details about the operation.

King's letter makes no direct reference to the possibility that Obama officials are cooperating with the cinematic effort in order to boost President Barack Obama's re-election bid, but he referenced a New York Times column Sunday in which Maureen Dowd made just that assertion.

"The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of Bin Laden to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual," she wrote. "Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 — perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher."

Dowd added: "The moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration."

The New Yorker magazine recently published—with some cooperation from the White House—a very detailed article about the bin Laden raid. The author later acknowledged he had no direct conversations with the Seals who carried it out.
King also noted in the letter:

"Leaks of classified information regarding the bin Laden raid have already resulted, according to a June 15, 2011 article in the Washington Post, in the arrests of Pakistanis who were believed by local authorities to have assisted the CIA with the May 1st raid. Further participation by JSOC and the Agency in making a film about the raid is bound to increase such leaks, and undermine these organizations’ hard-won reputations as “quiet professionals” − reputations important for their continued operational success. And, the success of these organizations is vital to our continued homeland security."

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