The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is calling for an investigation into the Obama administration’s granting of high-level access to filmmakers re-creating the U.S. special operation forces mission that killed Usama bin Laden.
In a letter to the inspectors general of the Defense Department and CIA, U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., wrote that the administration’s first duty in declassifying material is to provide full reporting to Congress and the American people to build public trust through transparency of government.
“In contrast, this alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history,” King wrote in the Aug. 9 letter.
The movie is the creation of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, who won an Oscar for their portrayal of an Iraq war bomb squad in “The Hurt Locker.” In a New York Times column that appeared Sunday, columnist Maureen Dowd noted that the White House was counting on the “big-screen version of the killing of bin Laden to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual.”
Dowd added that the pair had gotten “top-level access” to the mission and the projected October 2012 release date is “perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher.”
The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that it is cooperating with the project. A CIA spokeswoman said the agency’s goal is an “accurate portrayal” of its mission.
“As part of our public outreach, this agency — like others in our government — has over the years engaged with writers, documentary filmmakers, movie and TV producers and others in the entertainment industry,” Marie Harf said. “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.”
However, Fox News has learned that when the Pentagon cooperated with Bigelow on “The Hurt Locker,” a Department of Defense-sanctioned Army adviser pulled out at the last minute because Bigelow added several scenes that had not been authorized, breaking the production assistance agreement.
Among the additional scenes not approved by the Pentagon were one in which a U.S.-armored Humvee with an American flag on it drove into a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan to film “angry reaction” of the crowd. The directors also added scenes that showed U.S. military personnel abusing detainees.
King said he questioned whether military officials and the CIA will be able to screen the film before its release, whether the filmmakers access to CIA agents could blow their covers and how many tactics, techniques and agency methods could have been compromised.
Leaks of classified information regarding the bin Laden mission have already resulted in the arrests of Pakistanis who were believed by local authorities to have assisted the CIA with the May 1 raid, King noted.
The text of the letter sent to the inspectors general follows:
August 9, 2011
The Honorable Gordon S. Heddell
Department of Defense
400 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, VA 22202-4704
The Honorable David Buckley
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, DC 20505
Dear Inspectors General Heddell and Buckley:
I write to express concern regarding ongoing leaks of classified information regarding sensitive military operations. As reported in a New York Times column on August 6, 2011, Administration officials may have provided filmmakers with details of the raid that successfully killed Usama bin Laden (UBL). According to that report, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. and movie director Kathryn Bigelow received “top-level access to the most classified mission in history” to produce a movie about the raid, due for release in October 2012. Reportedly, a Hollywood filmmaker also attended a CIA ceremony in honor of the team that carried out the raid.
The Administration’s first duty in declassifying material is to provide full reporting to Congress and the American people, in an effort to build public trust through transparency of government. In contrast, this alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history.
Special Operations Command’s Admiral Eric Olson stated that the May 1st raid “was successful because nobody talked about it before, and if we want to preserve this capability nobody better talk about it after,” and that his operators’ “15 minutes of fame lasted about 14 minutes too long. They want to get back in the shadows.” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen stated that “It is time to stop talking,” as “We have gotten to a point where we are close to jeopardizing the precision capability that we have, and we can’t afford to do that. This fight isn’t over.” Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that “Too many people in too many places are talking too much about this operation, and when so much detail is available it makes that both more difficult and riskier” for such missions in the future.
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.
Therefore, I request an investigation and classified briefing regarding this matter from the Defense Department’s and CIA’s Inspectors General, including but not limited to the following:
• What consultations, if any, occurred between members of the Executive Office of the President, and Department of Defense and/or CIA officials, regarding the advisability of providing Hollywood executives with access to covert military operators and clandestine CIA officers to discuss the UBL raid?
• Will a copy of this film be submitted to the military and CIA for pre-publication review, to determine if special operations tactics, techniques and procedures, or Agency intelligence sources and methods, would be revealed by its release?
• How was the attendance of filmmakers at a meeting with special operators and Agency officers at CIA Headquarters balanced against those officers’ duties to maintain their covers? How will cover concerns be addressed going forward?
• What steps did the Administration take to ensure that no special operations tactics, techniques, and procedures were compromised during those meetings?
• To the extent possible to determine, how many human intelligence sources and how many Agency intelligence methods have been compromised due to leaks about the May 1st raid? What effects have these compromises had on the CIA’s collection capabilities? Will Agency participation in a film about the bin Laden raid add to or exacerbate the effects of these compromises?
If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Matthew McCabe, Senior Counsel for the Committee on Homeland Security, at (202) 226-8417. Thank you for your time and consideration of this request.
PETER T. KING
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)