Brian Birdnow

Buried in the back pages of the Friday newspapers (May 25th) lay a story of Obama Administration efforts to play up the elimination of Osama Bin Laden for political purposes and the suspected compromise of certain national security secrets by Administration officials, cavalierly attempting to gain partisan advantage in advance of the November election.

The facts of the story are somewhat murky, as the Administration has invoked the cone of silence on the emerging issue. It does seem, however, that the Obama administration has played fast and loose with national security secrets to maximize good publicity, via a Hollywood blockbuster, just in time for the coming election. So says Representative Peter King, R-NY, and the Homeland Security Committee Chairman. King, who first raised questions about this proposed Bin Laden movie last summer, said newly released documents confirmed his suspicions. He referred to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, the public interest legal foundation, under a Freedom of Information Act order. In King’s words, the documents revealed “extremely close, unprecedented and potentially dangerous collaboration” with President Barack Obama’s administration.

Judicial Watch said that the requested (and received) documents show that the Defense Department granted Academy Award winning filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal access to “a planner, an operator, and commander of SEAL Team 6”, the unit that killed Bin Laden in Pakistan on May 1, 2011. Other documents confirm that the moviemakers met with White House officials on at least two occasions about the film. A CIA e-mail indicates that Bigelow and Boal were granted access to “the vault”, which is believed to be the CIA command post where much of the tactical planning for the raid took place.

Naturally, Pentagon spokespeople are disputing these findings. DOD Press Secretary George Little insisted that the meeting between the filmmakers and the SEAL Team 6 operatives, while authorized by the department, never took place. He argued that the Defense Department regularly offers technical and operational expertise on movie projects to help make them as realistic as possible. Little also pointedly denied that the film was an effort to boost Obama’s re-election prospects, arguing that SONY pictures has scheduled December 19th as a potential release date for the movie.

The Obama Administration has made no public comment on the issue, to date. They refuse to confirm or deny that their staff people met with Bigelow and Boal, and hope that a complicit media will help them to sweep this issue under the rug. This remains a distinct possibility.

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.