White House officials shaped pending bin Laden movie

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

Top White House officials worked closely with producers of a movie about the successful killing of Osama bin Laden and pushed them to incorporate the administration’s talking points, according to administration documents unveiled by Judicial Watch.

“I took your guidance and spoke to the WH and had a good meeting with [John] Brennan and [Denis] McDonough and I plan to follow up with them; and they were forward leaning and interested in sharing their point of view,” screenwriter Mark Boal wrote in a July 2011 transcript of a Pentagon meeting.

Brennan is President Barack Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser and Denis McDonough is Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

Boal is working on a movie about the raid with director Kathryn Bigelow, who directed the successful “Hurt Locker” movie about bomb-disposal experts in the Iraq War. The new movie is provisionally titled, “Zero Dark Thirty.”

The filmmakers “are basically using the WH-approved talking points we used the night of the operation,” according to a June 2011 e-mail Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers sent to the Pentagon’s PR chief, Douglas Wilson.

Those talking points described the raid as a “gutsy decision” and played up the president’s role.

The records, including 153 pages of Pentagon records and 113 pages of CIA records, were obtained by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act.

The records also show that Bigelow and Boal were allowed to meet with one of the raid’s planners from Seal Team Six and were escorted through a high-security facility at CIA headquarters dubbed “The Vault.”

The CIA and Pentagon visits were arranged by The Glover Park Group, a Democratic lobbying group with close ties to many White House officials.

During the meetings, Bigelow predicted the movie would be released in “4th Qtr 2012.”

That date might have had the movie in theaters shortly before the 2012 election, but the release date has since been pushed back until after the election.

“These documents … show that politically-connected film makers were giving extraordinary and secret access to bin Laden raid information, including the identity of a Seal Team Six leader,” reads a statement from Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

“It is both ironic and hypocritical that the Obama administration stonewalled Judicial Watch’s pursuit of the bin Laden death photos, citing national security concerns, yet seemed willing to share intimate details regarding the raid to help Hollywood filmmakers release a movie perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost’ to the Obama campaign.”

Although Bigelow’s movie likely won’t appear until after the election, there’s a second movie that is expected to hit the screens in time to nudge up Obama’s ratings.

Obama supporter and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is near to closing a deal to distribute “Code Name Geronimo,” according to a recent Los Angeles Times report.

Although no footage of Obama appears in the Geronimo film, the film could be construed as favorable to the president.

The timing of the film’s release is no accident — Weinstein pulled a similar stunt when he released the Michael Moore documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” during the summer before the 2004 election.

Follow Neil on Twitter