Until it was over, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was one of the best-kept secrets in the history of Washington. Whether the Obama administration later went too far in spilling secrets about the operation to Hollywood is now getting at least a cursory look.
Newly released letters from the Pentagon and the CIA indicate that they will examine their cooperation with Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and movie director Kathryn Bigelow on a forthcoming bin Laden film.
The letters were sent to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, in response to his calls for an investigation into whether the Obama administration had given filmmakers “top-level access to the most classified mission in history.”
When King first raised the issue in August, the administration scoffed, noting that the White House and other federal agencies routinely work with authors, filmmakers and others to ensure they have access to accurate information. A spokesman for the National Security Council called King’s claims “ridiculous.”
Months later, the CIA and Pentagon are being a little less dismissive.
The CIA offered no indication that it would formally investigate the matter but said its public affairs office was “developing a written policy to create a single point of reference” to guide the agency on its interactions with filmmakers. The letter was signed by Patricia A. Lewis, deputy inspector general.
The Pentagon inspector general’s office went a step further, notifying the department’s intelligence chief and special operations command, among others, that “We plan to begin a subject investigation immediately.”
The planned film — from the director of “The Hurt Locker” — has potential political implications. Sony moved its release date into 2013 amid concerns that a fall 2012 release could boost President Obama’s prospects one month before the presidential election.
The Pentagon’s letter to King did have a Tinseltown touch. Citing King’s worry that the administration was leaking classified information about the raid, Assistant Inspector General “announced a project…to investigate the concerns.”
Isn’t that a Hollywood term?