Government Gave Zero Dark Thirty Filmmakers Classified Info

Posted: Oct 26, 2013 10:45 AM
Government Gave Zero Dark Thirty Filmmakers Classified Info

The alleged intentional leak of classified information to Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers has come back to haunt the government during the war crimes trial of a Guantanamo Bay detainee. The defense of Ammar al Baluchi, the detainee whose torture experiences supposedly served as the model for the popular film, is now requesting classified information about the treatment of his client that was provided to filmmakers but is still currently withheld by the prosecution.

The lawyer alleges that the information was provided to the filmmakers to spin a "curated narrative" in the government's favor and justify enhanced interrogation techniques.

Multiple sources reported that the government had leaked classified information, some of which was "Top Secret," to the Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers. I did not personally see the movie, so I will defer to the analysis of Jonathan Turley when the leaks surfaced (emphasis mine):

This week it was revealed that former CIA Director Leon Panetta disclosed classified information to “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmaker Mark Boal...

The wonderful thing for Holder is that this leaker is known and there are witnesses. He made the disclosure in front of 1,300 people in a tent at the CIA complex on June 24, 2011...

Notably, this disclosure helped a filmmaker who was developing a controversial film that seemed to herald the value of torture by CIA employees. Like many, I was surprised by the degree to which the movie made it look like it was torture that led to the killing of [Osama] in direct contradiction to what we know about the various sources used in the operation...

So Baluchi's lawyers' suspicions have plenty of company. When the leak was first revealed, many were outraged at the perceived hypocrisy of the Obama administration, punishing Bradley Manning and cracking down on whistleblowers while letting "pro-government leakers" walk free. The Washington Examiner reports that the Guantanamo Bay defense team is furious over another slight: the prioritization of Hollywood over the justice system:

“It’s really insulting that the information goes to somebody in the entertainment industry, who maybe can make the administration look good, but it doesn’t go to the [people who are] charged with defending the guy’s life,” said James Connell, an attorney for al Baluchi... “The prosecution has turned over no discovery whatsoever about the treatment of Mr. al Baluchi in CIA custody,” he said. “But they did provide at least some information to the filmmakers of 'Zero Dark Thirty,' and if we could get that information, it would be more than we have now."

The defense's motion has yet to be granted or denied. If granted, the lawyers have requested the testimony of not only government authorities but also Mark Boal, one of the Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers.