- (Photo: Reuters / Naseer Ahmed)
A congressman has written a letter to the Defense Department and the C.I.A. voicing concern that the White House may be giving filmmakers access to classified information on the covert Navy SEALs operation that took out terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House committee on Homeland Security, said in the letter dated August 9 that an investigation was needed to determine just how much high-level access President Barack Obama's administration had given Sony Pictures for its 2012 film on bin Laden.
In the letter to Defense Department Inspector General Gordon Heddell and CIA Inspector General David Buckley, King writes:
The Obama "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.”
The congressman references a New York Times (NYT) article published on August 6 that claims that "moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration."
King expresses concern in the letter over previous reports of leaks from the Washington Post that resulted in the arrests of Pakistanis who were believed by local authorities to have aided the CIA.
The Homeland Security committee chairman said White House officials assisting in the making of the bin Laden film will only increase such leaks and endanger the Navy SEALs and the security of Americans. King also noted that top level military officials share his concerns about increased leaks.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said King’s allegations of the Obama Administration compromising national security for political motives were “ridiculous."
Carney insisted during Wednesday's White House press briefing that whatever information filmmakers had received from the White House was the same information that had been shared with members of the media.
“When people, including you in this room, are working on articles, books, documentaries or movies that involve the president, ask to speak to administration officials, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure the facts are correct,” Carney said.
He added, “I would hope that as we face the continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie."
The filmmakers helming the bin Laden movie project are Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, the pair behind the Oscar-winning film "The Hurt Locker," which follows U.S. soldiers on a military operation in the Middle East.
The NYT article, written by Maureen Dowd, also asserts that Boal attended a C.I.A. ceremony honoring the Navy SEALs for their work in killing bin Laden. The identity of Navy SEALs are guarded to prevent compromising their lives and their missions.
The bin Laden film, currently untitled, has been scheduled for an October 2012 release, a month before Americans head to the polls to choose the next president.