King: DOD to probe access to bin Laden info

Jan 6, 2012 Issues: Killing of Osama bin Laden

Newsday -- TOM BRUNE

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Peter King said Thursday that his complaints about filmmakers' access to high-level information on the Osama bin Laden raid have prompted the Pentagon to investigate.

The CIA also will draft a policy on dealing with the entertainment industry, King said.

The Defense Department's inspector general said in a Dec. 23 letter that it has begun a formal investigation into "release of information to the filmmakers," said King, a Seaford Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

The CIA wrote him in November that its Office of Public Affairs is developing a written policy to "govern future interactions with the entertainment industry" and that it will be reviewed by the CIA inspector general, King said.

"I am pleased that the inspectors general at DOD and the CIA agree with me that potential leaks to filmmakers are something worth investigating and taking action to address," King said.

King said he sought probes by the agencies in August following a news report that Sony Pictures Entertainment and director Kathryn Bigelow had gotten "top-level access" to information about the highly classified raid to make a movie to run before the presidential election on Nov. 6. White House spokesman Jay Carney at the time called charges that the White House had given the filmmakers special access or classified data "ridiculous."

The Defense inspector general's office Thursday acknowledged receipt of King's "allegations" and its initiation of a probe, but declined to comment. The CIA confirmed its letter but said the agency has for years openly engaged with 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," said CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood. She added that protection of national security, including preserving the ability to conduct counterterrorism operations, is "an integral part of our mission."

King said he sees the Pentagon and CIA responses as vindication after Carney's "shockingly dismissive response" last August, when the White House spokesman said he hoped the Homeland Security Committee "would have more important topics to discuss than a movie." Carney made the comment in discussing how the administration handles requests for access and information from reporters, writers and filmmakers.