King, who Chairs the Homeland Security Committee, wrote a letter to the Inspectors General at the Department of Defense and CIA in response to a column by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Dowd claimed Saturday that Bigelow and Mark Boal, who are making a movie about the raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, 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."
The film is set to be released on October 12, 2012, and according to Dowd, the Administration hopes it will give Obama a boost right before the election, and is "counting on" it to counter the President's "growing reputation as ineffectual."
King's letter asks the pair of IGs what steps have been taken to investigate what information has been given to Bigelow and Boal. He also asked for a classified briefing as to whether the White House has consulted with the intelligence community about "the advisability of providing Hollywood executives with access to covert military operators and clandestine CIA officers" to discuss the raid, whether the CIA will be able to review a copy of the film before its release, and whether any sources or intelligence has been compromised by the White House's meetings with the filmmakers.
"The 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," King wrote. "In contrast, this alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history."
In a press briefing, White House Press Secretary responded to King's letter, calling the claims "ridiculous." Carney said that when members of the media are working on projects that involve the President, administration officials will frequently speak with them "to make sure the facts are correct. That is hardly a novel approach to the media."
"We do not discuss classified information and I would hope that as we face a continued threat from terrorism the house Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discus than a movie," Carney added.
On CNN Wednesday, King said in response that "obviously somebody wrote out a statement for Jay Carney and he has no idea what he's talking about."
King added that the Administration has been repeatedly leaking information over the 90 days since the raid, and "if we can't trust them to keep classified or sensitive information the last 90 days, how can we trust them dealing with a Hollywood script writer?"
Here's the full letter:
August 9, 2011
The Honorable Gordon S. Heddell
Department of Defense
400 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, VA 22202-4704
The Honorable David Buckley
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, DC 20505
Dear Inspectors General Heddell and Buckley:
I write to express concern regarding ongoing leaks of classified information regarding sensitive military operations. As reported in a New York Times column on August 6, 2011, Administration officials may have provided filmmakers with details of the raid that successfully killed Usama bin Laden (UBL). According to that report, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. and movie director Kathryn Bigelow received "top-level access to the most classified mission in history" to produce a movie about the raid, due for release in October 2012. Reportedly, a Hollywood filmmaker also attended a CIA ceremony in honor of the team that carried out the raid.
The 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.
Special Operations Command's Admiral Eric Olson stated that the May 1st raid "was successful because nobody talked about it before, and if we want to preserve this capability nobody better talk about it after," and that his operators' "15 minutes of fame lasted about 14 minutes too long. They want to get back in the shadows." Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen stated that "It is time to stop talking," as "We have gotten to a point where we are close to jeopardizing the precision capability that we have, and we can't afford to do that. This fight isn't over." Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that "Too many people in too many places are talking too much about this operation, and when so much detail is available it makes that both more difficult and riskier" for such missions in the future.
Leaks of classified information regarding the bin Laden raid have already resulted, according to a June 15, 2011 article in the Washington Post, in the arrests of Pakistanis who were believed by local authorities to have assisted the CIA with the May 1st raid. Further participation by JSOC and the Agency in making a film about the raid is bound to increase such leaks, and undermine these organizations' hard-won reputations as "quiet professionals" â reputations important for their continued operational success. And, the success of these organizations is vital to our continued homeland security.
Therefore, I request an investigation and classified briefing regarding this matter from the Defense Department's and CIA's Inspectors General, including but not limited to the following:
â¢ What consultations, if any, occurred between members of the Executive Office of the President, and Department of Defense and/or CIA officials, regarding the advisability of providing Hollywood executives with access to covert military operators and clandestine CIA officers to discuss the UBL raid?
â¢ Will a copy of this film be submitted to the military and CIA for pre-publication review, to determine if special operations tactics, techniques and procedures, or Agency intelligence sources and methods, would be revealed by its release?
â¢ How was the attendance of filmmakers at a meeting with special operators and Agency officers at CIA Headquarters balanced against those officers' duties to maintain their covers? How will cover concerns be addressed going forward?
â¢ What steps did the Administration take to ensure that no special operations tactics, techniques, and procedures were compromised during those meetings?
â¢ To the extent possible to determine, how many human intelligence sources and how many Agency intelligence methods have been compromised due to leaks about the May 1st raid? What effects have these compromises had on the CIA's collection capabilities? Will Agency participation in a film about the bin Laden raid add to or exacerbate the effects of these compromises?
If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Matthew McCabe, Senior Counsel for the Committee on Homeland Security, at (202) 226-8417. Thank you for your time and consideration of this request.
PETER T. KING