Sunday 22 October 2017

Obama 'handed Bin Laden material to filmmakers'

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign fund raising event in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign fund raising event in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Reuters

Jon Swaine in Washington

PRESIDENT Barack Obama has been accused of risking America's national security for political gain by giving Hollywood filmmakers access to secret material on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Documents released under freedom of information laws show that the US defence department and CIA enthusiastically assisted Kathryn Bigelow, the Oscar-winning director, for her film on the raid.

Mr Obama's administration even made available "a planner, operator and commander of Seal Team Six", the Navy squad that killed Bin Laden in May last year. The identities of Navy Seals are a closely kept secret.

The filmmakers were taken to a classified unit, whose name had to be redacted in the released documents, and were allowed to tour the CIA vaults, containing vast amounts of secret information. They were also shown the CIA's mock-up of Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

At the time, Ms Bigelow's film, titled 'Zero Dark Thirty', was due to be released in October, later prompting accusations that it was timed to boost Mr Obama's prospects for re-election the following month.

Collaboration

Congressman Peter King of New York, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, yesterday said the emails told a "damning story of extremely close, unprecedented, and potentially dangerous collaboration" between leading Obama officials, the filmmakers and a leftwing lobbying company.

Amid Republican calls for an inquiry, Mr King wrote to senior officials at the Pentagon and CIA demanding further details on what was disclosed to Ms Bigelow and her screenwriter, Mark Boal.

In a meeting last July, Michael Vickers, the under-secretary of defence for intelligence, promised to "make a guy available"... who would "give you everything you would want", transcripts show.

"That's dynamite," replied Mr Boal.

Mr Vickers said: "The only thing we ask is that you not reveal his name... he shouldn't be talking out of school."

The White House referred to a statement by the president's press secretary last year that it was "ridiculous" and "simply false" to suggest that classified information had been leaked for the film, which is now due to be released in December, after the presidential election.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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