The conservative government watchdog Judicial Watch released more documents about the Obama administration's cooperation with director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, the Oscar-winning team behind "The Hurt Locker" who are currently working on a project, "Zero Dark Thirty," about the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden.
You can read the documents here.
"These new documents provide more backing to the serious charge that the Obama administration played fast and loose with national security information to help Hollywood filmmakers," said Judicial Watch
President Tom Fitton. "No wonder we've had to fight one year of stonewalling from the administration. These new documents show there is no doubt that Obama White House was intensely interested in this film that was set to portray President Obama as 'gutsy.'"
(This was a reference to Maureen Dowd's column about the administration cooperation with filmmakers, saying the film "will no doubt reflect the president's cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds. Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 - perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher." The release date for the film has since been pushed to after the election.)
The White House dismissed the significance of the documents.
"Nothing in this press release is a surprise," said White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor. "Having a conversation with a journalist, author or filmmaker about what he or she is working on is possibly the most basic, mundane function of a press office, and millions of Americans, including many in government, are understandably proud of our nation's effort to kill bin Laden."
In May, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told me that the Obama administration shared "nothing inappropriate" with the filmmakers.
"Nothing inappropriate was shared with them, Jake. You know, we get inquires everyday from the entertainment industry. We get inquiries from people writing articles, from people writing books, people doing television shows," Panetta said. "And the process that we've established is that you know, we will work with those individuals."
One internal CIA memo obtained by Judicial Watch dated July 14, 2011, from CIA spokesperson Marie Harf notes a pending visit by Bigelow to the CIA.
"Kathryn is not interested in doing the deep dives that Mark (Boal) did; she simply wants to meet the people Mark has been talking to," Harf wrotes.
In another exchange, Boal asked Harf to provide detailed information regarding the third floor of the compound that were not present on the open-source floor plan:
"Would you mind looking into getting us some of the third floor specs…as the open source plan is missing those: height of wall, etc..? We will be building a full scale replica of the house. Including the inhabitants of the animal pen!"
"Ha! Of course I don't mind!" Harf wrote. "I'll work on that tomorrow…"
One June 2011 email from Harf to another CIA colleague, talking about various entertainment projects dealing with Osama bin Laden, stated: "I know we don't pick favorites but it makes sense to get behind a winning horse…Mark and Kathryn's movie is going to be the first and the biggest. It's got the most money behind it, and two Oscar winners on board…"
In another email exchange, Boal's assistant sent Harf a copy of the floor plan of the OBL compound in Abbottobad: "Per your conversation with Mark, can you verify whether this floor plan is accurate?"
"Ok, I checked with our folks, and that floor plan matches with what we have. It looks legit to us," Harf responded.
One email, from Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Benjamin Rhodes to then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson, then-CIA Director of Public Affairs George Little, and Deputy White House Press Secretary Jaime Smith seems to suggest the White House was learning about the CIA's and Pentagon's cooperation with the filmmakers late in tge game and wanted to supervise:
"…we are trying to have visibility into the UBL projects and this is likely the most high profile one. Would like to have whatever group is going around in here at the WH to get a sense of what they're doing / what cooperation they're seeking. Jamie will be POC" - point of contact.