King seeks probe of bin Laden movie project
WASHINGTON - The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee sought an investigation Wednesday into the Obama administration's cooperation with award-winning filmmakers working on a movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said too much information already has leaked out about the Navy SEALs raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan in May, and Pentagon officials have cautioned against discussing details of the mission.
King asked the inspectors general of the CIA and Defense Department to determine what consultations occurred in the Obama administration about providing Hollywood with access to covert military operators and clandestine CIA officers.
The picture will be directed by Kathryn Bigelow and the screenwriter will be Mark Boal, 2009 Academy Award winners for "The Hurt Locker."
The White House ridiculed King's request, saying the moviemakers will not receive any sensitive information.
Press secretary Jay Carney told reporters, "When people, including you in this room, are working on articles, books, documentaries or movies that involve the president, ask to speak to administration officials, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure that facts are correct. That is hardly a novel approach to the media.
"We do not discuss classified information. And I would hope that as we face the continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie."
He said information provided about the raid was focused on President Barack Obama's role and it's the same information given to anybody writing about the topic.
King said his staff has spoken to CIA officials who were upset about any cooperation with the movie-makers. Among the things he asked the inspectors general to investigate were:
—Any consultations within the administration on the advisability of providing Hollywood executives with access to covert military operators and clandestine CIA officers to discuss the raid.
—Whether a copy of the film would be submitted to the military and CIA for pre-publication review to determine whether special operations tactics, techniques and procedures, or intelligence sources and methods, would be revealed.
—Whether filmmakers attended a meeting with special operations personnel and CIA officers, and whether any such attendance was balanced against the duty to maintain cover for these operatives.
The movie may be released by Sony Pictures Entertainment next fall, shortly before the November 2012 elections.
Marine Col. Dave Lapan, a Defense Department spokesman, told reporters, "This film project is only in the script development phase, and DoD is providing assistance with script research, which is something we commonly do for established filmmakers.
"Until there is a script to review, and a request for equipment or other DoD support, there is no formal agreement for DoD support."
Bigelow and Boal said in a statement, "Our upcoming film project about the decade-long pursuit of bin Laden 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.
"Indeed, the dangerous work of finding the world's most wanted man was carried out by individuals in the military and intelligence communities who put their lives at risk for the greater good without regard for political affiliation. This was an American triumph, both heroic and non-partisan, and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise."