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White House denies leaking Bin Laden raid details to filmmakers

August 10, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

The White House on Wednesday defended its decision to grant filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and others access to top officials to discuss the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and called claims from a senior Republican lawmaker that classified information was being compromised for political ends "ridiculous."

New York Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to officials at the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency on Tuesday expressing concern about "ongoing leaks of classified information regarding sensitive military operations."

He cited an Aug. 6 column by Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, which said that Bigelow, who won an Academy Award for "The Hurt Locker," got "top-level access" to White House officials to discuss the Bin Laden raid as she works on a film about the operation.

The administration, Dowd wrote, is hoping Bigelow's planned film, set to be released just weeks before Obama is on the ballot for reelection, will "counter Obama's growing reputation as ineffectual."

"This alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history," King writes, demanding an accounting of what, if any, information was shared with "Hollywood executives."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at his Wednesday briefing that any information shared with the filmmakers was no different than what members of the media had access to, and that King's claims are "ridiculous."

"We do not discuss classified information. And I would hope that as we face a continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie," Carney said. "The most specific information we've given from this White House about the actual raid I read to you from this podium. So it's simply false."

"Kill Bin Laden," Bigelow's movie, starring Joel Edgerton, about American efforts to kill the terrorist leader, is scheduled for release by Sony Pictures on Oct. 12, 2012.

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