Panetta makes ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ reference


President Barack Obama greets outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta after the State of the Union address. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Asked if there was anything about the 2011 CIA raid in Pakistan in which Osama bin Laden was killed that wasn’t publicly known, Panetta laughed, and indicated that some people might be confusing fact and fiction. “It wasn’t James Gandolfini who did that,” he said, referring to the actor who played him in “Zero Dark Thirty,” the movie about the Bin Laden operation.

Panetta has said he thought the thespian, a fellow Italian-American, did a “great job” of playing a CIA director in the movie — a character clearly based on Panetta (in his previous job), though never named.

Looks like Panetta is exiting on that light note: The Senate could vote as soon as this week on the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to be his replacement at the Pentagon.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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