A House committee chairman wants an investigation of Obama administration cooperation with award-winning filmmakers on a movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The White House says it did not give anyone special access.
Republican Peter King, who heads the Homeland Security Committee, says there has been too much talk already about the raid by Navy SEALS 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, both 2009 Academy Award winners for The Hurt Locker.
King says the Obama administration is trying to promote "a cinematographic view of history." White House spokesman Jay Carney says the claims are ridiculous.
"We do not discuss classified information, and I would hope that as we face a continued threat of international terrorism, the House Homeland Security Committee would have more important topics to discuss than a movie," he says.
Carney says the information the film crew received was no different from the information the White House gave reporters. He says information provided about the raid was focused on President Barack Obama's role.
King says 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.
NPR's Ari Shapiro contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press