Investigators are probing whether US President Barack Obama’s administration divulged too many details of the secret raid on slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to Hollywood filmmakers.
US Representative Peter King, a Republican who heads the House Homeland Security Committee, has questioned how much information was shared about the US special operations mission in Pakistan that killed bin Laden in May.
King on Thursday released a letter from the Pentagon dated last month saying that the inspector general’s office covering intelligence matters “will address actions taken by Department of Defense personnel related to the release of information to the filmmakers.”
King also released a letter from the CIA dating from November saying that its office of public affairs was developing a “single point of reference that will govern future interactions with the entertainment industry.”
King has expressed worries about the administration’s cooperation with Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc and Kathryn Bigelow, director of the Oscar-winning picture The Hurt Locker, who is working on a movie about the hunt for bin Laden.
In August, King wrote the inspectors general of the Pentagon and CIA, referring to a New York Times column saying that Sony and Bigelow had been given “top-level access to the most classified mission in history.”
In his letter, King said that leaks of classified information related to the bin Laden raid had already resulted in the arrests of Pakistanis believed by Pakistani authorities to have assisted the CIA. Participation by the Pentagon and the CIA in making a film about the raid “is bound to increase such leaks, and undermine these organizations’ hard-won reputations as ‘quiet professionals,’” King said.
He sought information on talks among the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA about providing Hollywood executives with access to covert military operators and asked whether the film would be submitted to the military and the CIA for pre-publication review.
White House press secretary Jay Carney, asked in August about King’s call for an investigation, said claims that the White House had given out classified information were false and that the most specific information the White House had released about the raid came from his daily briefings.
In a statement late on Thursday, CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said: “The CIA has been open that as part of our public outreach, the agency has over the years engaged 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,” Youngblood added. “And it is an absolute that the protection of national security equities is an integral part of our mission.”
Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal issued a statement in August saying the film “has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, as well as the cooperative strategies and implementation by the Department of Defense and the CIA.”
The movie is expected to reach theaters at the end of the year.