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Hollywood offered access to SEAL

Makers of bin Laden film decline invitation

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Obama administration officials offered Hollywood filmmakers access to a member of the top secret Navy SEALs team that killed Osama bin Laden last year, newly released documents show.

Although the film producers never met with the SEAL, the news of the administration offer brought complaints and calls for investigation from Republicans on Capitol Hill, who accused the White House of election year campaigning that put national security at risk.

No classified information was revealed to filmmakers, officials told The Washington Times on Wednesday.

Officials from the White House, CIA and Pentagon met last summer with producer Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal as part of their normal public affairs outreach work, said White House National Security spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the collaboration with the filmmakers "extremely close, unprecedented and potentially dangerous."

Rep. Thomas J. Rooney, Florida Republican and a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees, asked the Pentagon's independent inspector general to launch an investigation into whether officials might have disclosed classified data.

The Hollywood duo made the highly acclaimed movie "The Hurt Locker" about a U.S. military bomb disposal squad in Iraq, and are now collaborating on a film about the decade-long hunt for bin Laden.

"When people, including press, authors, filmmakers, [or] documentarians, who are working on projects that involve the president ask to speak with administration officials, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure the facts are correct," Mr. Vietor said in a statement.

A Pentagon official, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael G. Vickers, offered to set up a meeting between the filmmakers and someone "who was involved from the beginning as a planner, a SEAL Team 6 operator and commander," according to a transcript of a July 14 meeting.

The transcript was part of a 153-page trove of emails and other documents released by the Pentagon to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.

U.S. Special Operations Command had "offered this individual as a possible point of contact" for the filmmakers, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James Gregory said in an interview.

"For whatever reason, [the filmmakers] chose not to go forward," he added. "So that final decision [whether to let them speak to the SEAL] never had to be made."

He said Pentagon policy prohibits the disclosure of the names of special operations personnel, but he added that not all SEALs belonged to secret units or had classified identities.

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