A Freedom of Information request filed by government watchdog Judicial Watch revealed that former CIA Director Leon E. Panetta was the source who gave up secret information to the scriptwriter of “Zero Dark Thirty,” the Hollywood movie about the raid on Osama bin Laden.
Judicial Watch said in an email that Mr. Panetta revealed the classified information during an awards ceremony on June 24, 2011, to mark the administration’s assault on Osama bin Laden. Mr. Panetta was giving a speech at the ceremony, during which he concluded: “You have made me proud of the CIA family. And you have made me proud as an Italian to know that bin Laden sleeps with the fishes.”
Hollywood’s Mark Boal, who produced “Zero Dark Thirty,” was at this awards ceremony. According to internal documents from the CIA received by Judicial Watch as part of the group’s FOIA request, Mr. Panetta’s entire speech was classified “Top Secret.” And Mr. Panetta shouldn’t have spoken those words in front of Mr. Boal, who didn’t have a top security clearance, Judicial Watch reported.
Mr. Panetta said he didn’t know Mr. Boal was in the audience during his speech and assumed all those who were at the ceremony had the proper security clearances, Judicial Watch reported.
The most egregious part of the intelligence slip was that Mr. Panetta “specifically recognized the unit that conducted the raid and identified the ground commander by name,” a draft Pentagon inspector general’s report stated, Judicial Watch reported.
And the leak caused some consternation on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, accused the CIA of being “very sloppy” and called the administration “very sloppy in enforcing security procedures when it came to Hollywood. It almost seems as if they were star-struck.”
Judicial Watch said it received about 200 pages as part of its FOIA request to the CIA.