Rep. King slams White House for sharing bin Laden secrets with Hollywood

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The White House has apparently undermined the secrecy that protects U.S. anti-jihadi operations because it wants to aid Hollywood’s quick production of a movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to a statement from Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

E-mails released May 22 show “a damning story of extremely close, unprecedented, and potentially dangerous collaboration with top officials at the CIA, the [Department of Defense] and the White House and a top Democratic lobbying firm,” King said.

King is pressing administration officials to explain their unprecedented cooperation with producer Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, whose movie, titled “Zero Dark Thirty,” is slated for release later this year.

Bigelow and Boal apparently used a Democratic lobbying firm, the Glover Park Group, to help them get access to officials and soldiers involved in the successful killing.

“Is it CIA practice to meet with registered lobbyists in order to facilitate access to National Clandestine Service personnel?… Were [CIA spies] introduced to Boal and Bigelow over the objections of the Director of the [CIA counterterrorism center], who apparently declined to meet with the filmmakers?” King asked in a May 23 letter sent to Michael Morell, deputy director of the CIA.

“Who specifically authorized current [Pentagon] Special Mission Unit operators to speak about this mission to uncleared personnel outside of their chain of command?… What specifically was your guidance [given to you] from your chain of command and the White House?” King asked in a second letter to Michael Vickers, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

The information sharing occurred even though top defense officials had apparently won a top White House commitment in May 2011 to shield secret intelligence-gathering techniques from the global media, King said.

“We simply cannot forget what then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates said a week after the raid,” King said in his statement.

“Frankly, a week ago Sunday, in the Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden.  That all fell apart on Monday, the next day,” Gates said in May 2011, shortly after the media began publishing classified information about the raid that had been leaked by government officials.

The details of the close cooperation between White House officials and the filmmakers were published by a D.C.-based public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, following a Freedom of Information Act request.

“The email messages indicate that the filmmakers were allowed an unprecedented visit to a classified facility so secret that its name is redacted in the released email,” said King’s May 23 statement, which also included copies of the letters sent to Pentagon and CIA officials.

King also slammed the White House for allowing a lobbying firm to broker the meetings between the filmmakers and top White House officials, at least one of the officers who planned the raid, and several CIA anti-jihadi officials.

“The Democratic lobbying firm Glover Park Group was… intimately involved in brokering these filmmakers’ access to clandestine officers and potentially special operators only weeks after the mission and when details were otherwise still very closely guarded,” King said.

Since the cooperation took place, a top CIA public affairs aide has joined the Obama reelection campaign, said King’s statement.

Joel Arends, chairman of Veterans for a Strong America also criticized the cooperation, calling the entire move “disgusting and shameful behavior on the part of this White House” in a statement to The Daily Caller.

Arends said, “President Obama claimed he would not spike the football – now he is allowing his administration to literally write the movie and sell the movie rights.”

“The use of classified facilities at the Pentagon and CIA for the purposes of making a movie, which was originally due for release before the election,” he noted, “is the outright use of highly secretive national security resources for political campaigning.”

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