Bin Laden Filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal Shoot Back at Republican Congressman
Filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have responded to a Republican congressman who is demanding an investigation into whether the Obama administration leaked classified information to them for use in their upcoming film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The Hurt Locker director and writer say that their new movie will present “an American triumph, both heroic and non-partisan," adding “there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise.”
In a letter to the defense department inspector general and the CIA inspector general, U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who is the chairman of the committee on homeland security, said he was worried that classified information had been leaked to Bigelow, Boal and Sony Pictures, which is distributing the film in 2012. King wrote that “this alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history.”
Bigelow and Boal have now responded to King, issuing the following joint statement:
"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.
Bigelow and Boal were prepping a SEALs movie involving the hunt for bin Laden when the terrorist was killed in late April by U.S. forces in a dramatic raid in Pakistan. The filmmakers quickly incorporated the event into the script and Sony picked up the project in May for release on October 12, 2012.
But Rep. King, apparently responding to a Sunday column by NY Times writer Maureen Dowd that touted the government access Bigelow and Boal were being given, outlines several questions he wants answered:
"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? 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? What steps did the Administration take to ensure that no special operations tactics, techniques, and procedures were compromised during those meetings?”
Washington and the military have long cooperated with Hollywood, regardless of which party holds power in the White House. The Pentagon even has an official liaison office in Los Angeles.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, at the daily briefing on Wednesday, called the claims "ridiculous" and "simply false" and said the White House had provided information to the filmmakers only on the president's role in the raid.
"When people, including you, in this room are working on articles, books, documentaries or movies that involve the President, ask to speak to administration officials, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure the facts are correct," Carney told reporters. "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 discuss than a movie."
Bigelow and Boal might have opened the door to the criticism. When the pair were working on the movie and in setting it up, much was made of Boal’s access to military intelligence (he's a former war journalist), which was a selling point on the authenticity and the insidery feel the project was to showcase.
Another Navy SEALs movie is headed to theaters in 2012. Act of Valor, directed by Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scot Waugh, began life as a recruitment for the U.S. military's Naval Special Warfare Command, home of the elite Navy SEALs. That film, made with the full support of the Navy and featuring real SEALs, will be released by Relativity Media on Feb. 17.
A spokesman for the committee on homeland security didn’t have an immediate response to queries from THR about Act of Valor.