CIA, Defense Dept. probing alleged bin Laden mission leaks to Hollywood filmmaker

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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New York Republican Rep. Peter King, who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced Thursday that the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency are investigating the possibility of politically motivated leaks — to a Hollywood filmmaker — about the Navy SEAL mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

The May 2011 raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan compound was recorded by Navy SEAL team members and live-streamed to a group including President Barack Obama and other top officials. The precise details of the mission haven’t been released, and at least one former SEAL has dismissed the government’s official account as a “fairy tale.”

King and others suspect that Obama administration officials released intimate details of the mission to Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow. Sony Pictures initially planned to release a film about the mission in October 2012, just one month before the presidential election.

The initial release date stoked fears that the film, and possible leaks to Bigelow, were intended to assist Obama’s re-election efforts by reminding voters of his most significant foreign policy accomplishment.

“Following a shockingly dismissive response to my request from White House press secretary Jay Carney, 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 in a statement Thursday.

“The leaks that followed the successful bin Laden mission led to the arrests of Pakistanis and put in danger the mission’s heroes and their families,” he wrote. “Privately, individuals in the intelligence and special operations communities expressed support for my request for a probe.”

King initially pressed for an investigation into possible leaks in August, writing to the Defense Department and CIA to encourage action. He said Thursday that both agencies have confirmed to him that they are looking into the allegations.

In August, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney described King’s allegations as “simply false” and “ridiculous.”

The Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General informed King in a letter, excerpted by the congressman, that a formal investigation had been launched into “actions taken by Defense Department personnel related to the release of information to the filmmakers.”

In August Bigelow released a statement claiming that despite the controversy, her film had “been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations.” The release date has since been moved to an undisclosed date after Election Day.

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