Lawmaker wants probe of help given to makers of bin Laden movie
Rep. Peter King asks the Pentagon and CIA to investigate reports the Obama administration let filmmakers see classified information.
The Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee wants the Pentagon and CIA to investigate reports that the Obama administration gave Hollywood filmmakers special early access to classified information on the military raid that led to Osama bin Laden's death.
The movie is reportedly due for release in October 2012, which Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., notes is just a month before next year's elections.
In a letter to Defense Department Inspector General Gordon Heddell and CIA Inspector General David Buckley, King cites an August 6 New York Times report that 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.
King argues that too many leaks of classified information regarding the raid already have occurred, citing reports of arrests of Pakistanis believed by local authorities to have assisted the CIA in the May 1 raid.
King wrote that participation by military and CIA officials in making a film about the raid is bound to increase such leaks and undermine the 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," King said in the letter dated Tuesday but publicly released on Wednesday.
King also argued that 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," King said.
Among the questions King wants answered are: What consultations occurred among White House, Defense, and CIA officials on the idea of giving access to filmmakers, and will the film be submitted to the military and CIA for "pre-publication review?"
White House press secretary Jay Carney, during a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, dismissed King's assertions as "ridiculous."
"When people -- including you -- in this room are working on articles, books, documentaries, or movies that involve the president and ask to speak to an administration official, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure the facts are correct," Carney said. "That is hardly a novel approach to the media. We do not discuss classified information."
Carney also noted the challenges of fighting terrorism and said he hoped King's committee "would have more important things to discuss than a movie."