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Congressman wants probe of bin Laden film project

- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee sought an investigation Wednesday into the Obama administration's cooperation with award-winning filmmakers working on a movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, said too much information already has leaked out about the Navy SEALs' raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan in May, and Pentagon officials have cautioned against discussing details of the mission.

Mr. King asked the inspectors general of the CIA and Defense Department to determine what consultations occurred in the Obama administration about providing Hollywood with access to covert military operators and clandestine CIA officers.

The picture will be directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal, each of whom won a 2009 Academy Award for "The Hurt Locker."

The White House ridiculed Mr. King's request, saying the information provided was focused on President Obama's role and was the same information given to anybody on the topic.

"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 that facts are correct. That is hardly a novel approach to the media," press secretary Jay Carney said.

"We do not discuss classified information. And 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."

Mr. King said his staff has spoken to CIA officials who were upset about any cooperation with the movie-makers. Among the things he asked the inspectors general to investigate are:

• Any consultations within the administration on the advisability of providing Hollywood executives with access to covert military operators and clandestine CIA officers to discuss the raid.

• Whether a copy of the film would be submitted to the military and CIA for pre-release review to determine whether special operations tactics, techniques and procedures, or intelligence sources and methods, would be revealed.

• Whether filmmakers attended a meeting with special operations personnel and CIA officers, and whether any such attendance was balanced against the duty to maintain cover for these operatives.

Marine Col. Dave Lapan, a Defense Department spokesman, told reporters, "This film project is only in the script development phase, and DoD is providing assistance with script research," which he said was common.

The movie is scheduled for release by Sony Pictures Entertainment in October 2012, which also has caused conservative media outlets to claim the film is being timed to help Mr. Obama's re-election bid. Sony held a fundraiser for Mr. Obama on studio premises in April.

Miss Bigelow and Mr. Boal said their Bin Laden hunt film "has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations."

"This was an American triumph, both heroic and nonpartisan, and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise," the two said in a statement.

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