Rep. Peter King loves himself a good old fashioned controversy-courting
witch trial hearing, whether it's on Muslim "radicalization" or pizza tourism. And now he's set his sights on a new target: King is calling for an investigation into the Obama administration to figure out the nature of their collaboration with two Hollywood filmmakers who are making a movie about the hunt for and death of Osama bin Laden.
It came out last week (in a Maureen Dowd column no-less) that the Obama administration had allowed screenwriter Mark Boal and Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow "top-level access" to service members behind the raid in prepping the movie, which has a tentative release date of October 12, 2012, approximately one month before the election. And King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, sees a conspiracy!
He wrote a letter to the White House requesting an investigation into the film, expressing his concerns that sensitive information about the Navy SEALs raid has been shared too freely, and that the filmmakers had access to covert officers within the military. And he's upset that the administration is ready for their close up:
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.
If King was looking for a discussion, then he's gotten it, with immediate responses from the filmmakers, the White House and the CIA. Bigelow and Boal released the below statement defending their film:
Our upcoming film project about the decade long pursuit of Bin Laden has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, as well as the cooperative strategies and implementation by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. Indeed, the dangerous work of finding the world’s most wanted man was carried out by individuals in the military and intelligence communities who put their lives at risk for the greater good without regard for political affiliation. This was an American triumph, both heroic, and non-partisan and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise.
White House press secretary Jay Carney also took umbrage at the charges: “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.”
CIA spokesman Preston Golson said the agency had a history of collaborating with filmmakers: "As part of our public outreach, this agency—like others in our government—has over the years engaged with writers, documentary filmmakers, movie and TV producers, and others in the entertainment industry. Our goal is an accurate portrayal of the men and women of the CIA, their vital mission and the commitment to public service that defines them."
Whether King is correct about the timing of the movie politically benefitting Obama’s reelection campaign, it seems to be quite obvious that the administration and CIA did nothing wrong in working with the filmmakers. Furthermore, there's nothing wrong with Obama touting bin Laden's death as one of his major accomplishments—as The AV Club put it, he may wish to consider answering all criticism from here-on with the line, “Yes, but I killed Osama bin Laden.”