Filmmakers Received Access To Classified Details Of Bin Laden Raid
While there are legitimate questions about the extent to which our government overly classifies material as “secret,” or higher, there’s something about this that doesn’t sound right at all:
Just weeks after Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency officials warned publicly of the dangers posed by leaks about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, top officials at both agencies and at the White House granted Hollywood filmmakers unusual access to those involved in planning the raid and some of the methods they used to do it, newly released government records show.
At a briefing in July 2011, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Mike Vickers told filmmakers Michael Boal and Katherine Bigelow that the leaders of the the Special Operations Command couldn’t speak to them for appearances’ sake. However, Vickers said that the Pentagon would make available a Navy SEAL who was involved in planning the raid from its earliest stages.
“On the operators side, Adm. McRaven and Adm. Olson do not want to talk directly, because it’s just a bad, their [sic] just concerned as commanders of the force and they’re telling them all the time—don’t you dare talk to anybody, that it’s just a bad example if it gets out—even with all sorts of restrictions and everything,” Vickers said, according to a transcript of the meeting released Friday to Judicial Watch. The conservative watchdog group filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit demanding the documents.
“The basic idea is they’ll make a guy available who was involved from the beginning as a planner, a SEAL Team 6 Operator and Commander,” McRaven said.
“That’s dynamite,” Boal replied, according to the transcript. (Posted in full here and worth the read.)
Bigelow, best known for “The Hurt Locker,” also chimed in. “That’s incredible,” she said, gratefully.
“He’ll speak for operators and he’ll speak for senior military commanders,” Vickers continued, adding that the designated SEAL would essentially be a mouthpiece for McRaven and Olson. “The only thing we ask is that you not reveal his name in any way as a consultant because again it’s the same thing, he shouldn’t be talking out of school, this at least gives him one step removed and he knows what he can and can’t say,” Vickers added, vouching that the SEAL cleared to meet with the filmmakers would be able to provide “lots of color.”
The Pentagon is now withholding from the public and the press the same name DoD gave the filmmakers.
The documents obtained by Judicial Watch show the White House and the CIA also rolled out the welcome mat for the filmmakers. Boal visited with acting CIA director Michael Morrell and had access to a mock-up at CIA headquarters that depicted the Abbottabad, Pakistan compound where the raid was carried out, the records indicate.
“After reviewing these emails, I am even more concerned about the possible exposure of classified information to these filmmakers, who as far as I know, do not possess security clearances,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) said in a statement early Wednesday. “The email messages indicate that the filmmakers were allowed an unprecedented visit to a classified facility so secret that its name is redacted in the released email. If this facility is so secret that the name cannot even be seen by the public, then why in the world would the Obama Administration allow filmmakers to tour it?”
Now, it’s long been the case that government agencies, including the military have cooperated with Hollywood, allowing filmmakers access to bases to film scenes and providing technical advice on matters such as ship design and military customs. However, something like that is a far cry, it strikes me, from allowing them to have access to information so secret that it supposedly cannot even be shared with the public for fear of the damage it would do to national security. Either the classification is entirely bogus, or somebody was being irresponsible in allowing civilians access to information that they should not be seeing. It would be nice to know which it is.