Sources tell ABC News that the Inspector General for the Department of Defense has been preparing a report in which Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers is criticized for giving sensitive information to the filmmakers behind “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Specifically, Vickers is said to have disclosed to the filmmakers the identity of a member of SEAL Team Six — though not a member of the team that conducted the raid on Osama bin Laden‘s compound. Names of members of that team are not to be disclosed because of the potential for violent retaliation.
Some in the Pentagon think the Inspector General is holding the report until after the current Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, retires so as to not sully or embarrass him.
A senior defense official disputed that. “It’s wrong for anyone to suggest the investigation has been held up for political reasons or to avoid embarrassment,” the official said. “The investigation simply hasn’t concluded. These things often take time.”
The official added that Pentagon officials “really don’t think this will amount to anything.”
Documents released in May, after the conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained them through the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that in a July 14, 2011 meeting, Vickers told the filmmakers he would provide them with the name of a “planner, SEAL Team 6 Operator and Commander.”
“The only thing we ask is that you not reveal his name in any way as a consultant because . . . he shouldn’t be talking out of school.” Vickers said. “This at least, this gives him one step removed and he knows what he can and can’t say, but this way at least he can be as open as he can with you and it ought to meet your needs.”
The senior defense official said that Vickers was asked by the Pentagon to talk to “the ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ filmmakers and others in the entertainment industry to provide unclassified information on the bin Laden operation. He wasn’t doing this on his own. It’s appropriate for department officials to work with the entertainment industry to try to inform how stories are told — especially those associated with one of the greatest intelligence and military successes of a generation.”
The official said that “Vickers is one of America’s top defense and intelligence professionals who has closely guarded secrets for decades, and is highly respected in the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.”