Rep. Peter King on Sony's Bin Laden Movie

Rep. Peter King on Sony's Bin Laden Movie

By John King, USA - August 10, 2011

KING: There's a big made for Washington dust up tonight about a made for Hollywood real-life drama, the CIA raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The Obama administration is cooperating with Oscar winning moviemaker Kathryn Bigelow of "Hurt Locker" fame, on just such a project. And a Republican member of Congress is crying foul.

Congressman Pete King has two big questions -- is the administration giving the filmmaker access to any classified information about Special Operations procedures and tactics? And is the White House cooperation perhaps in exchange for an October 2012 release, just before the next presidential election?

Both the Pentagon and the CIA acknowledge meeting with the bin Laden movie team, but they say it is routine and that those working on this project are getting the same kind of background briefings routinely given when writers and filmmakers are exploring major military and intelligence issues.

And the White House says any suggestion that secrets are being shared or politics play a supporting role here are out of bounds.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The claims are ridiculous. When people, including you in this room, are working on articles, books, documentaries, or movies that involve the president, ask to speak to administration officials, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure the facts are correct. That is hardly a novel approach to the media. 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.


J. KING: So, is Congressman King satisfied? The chairman of the homeland security committee is with us tonight from his district in New York.

What do you say, Mr. Chairman? The White House, the Pentagon, the CIA say this is all routine, nothing to worry about.

REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: You know, Jay Carney had a clever talking point. But it makes no sense at all.

The fact is for the last 90 days ever since the raid, which I give President Obama total credit for. He showed extraordinary courage and strong decision making in authorizing that. So, this is nothing against President Obama's decision.

But it is a real reflection on this administration. For 90 days, we've had sensitive information on top of sensitive information being disclosed to the press. And -- I mean, just so many things, including reports of a Pakistani doctor, reports of a second CIA operation going back to Abbottabad. An article in "The New Yorker" last week which recounted minute by minute the whole operation that was carried out to get bin Laden.


J. KING: Let me jump in on one point. Secretary Gates and a lot of people, including yourself, complained about leaks. There are a lot of complaints about leaks in Washington. That "New Yorker" article you mentioned, though, it quoted military commanders and not anybody inside the White House. It said it was military commanders who had access to the details of the operation.

The specific question about this movie -- yes, there have been a lot of leaks, a lot of people think a lot of them have been reckless and maybe compromised security. But do you have any specific information that this movie team is getting classified information?

P. KING: And that's why I asked for the investigation. I'm asking for the inspectors general in the Department of Defense and CIA in view of the poor track record of this administration to show exactly what precautions and procedures are put in place to make sure that no sensitive information has been given out. And the reason it's more of an issue that it may be otherwise is because the administration has shown itself incapable of keeping sensitive information secret. And if they are disclosing it to newspapers, magazines and the media and to God knows who else, how can we be sure they're not going to disclose it to a Hollywood producer?

And I think it's a cause for real concern and I can tell you I got so much contact from people in the intelligence community today fully supporting what I'm doing and saying that it's overdue.

J. KING: I have your press release announcing and attached the letters to the two inspectors general. And you make this point -- the film is reportedly to be released next October just a month before the November 12th, 2012 elections. By you putting that right here seems to raise the suggestion you think perhaps the White House sees a political gain here.

Do you think this president would sell access essentially for political gain?

P. KING: I would think that people in the administration may think they can make a deal with Hollywood not intending to disclose anything sensitive or classified, but their conduct in the last 90 days shows they're not capable really of deciding what's sensitive and not. And that's why I want the I.G.s to come back and tell us again, what precautions and procedures are being put in place.

And, by the way, I've heard from people in the CIA that when they agreed to this cooperation, they had no idea this was going to be released three weeks before election day. That is totally new news to them. They had no idea about it. Some of them feel as if there's a breach of faith.

J. KING: The White House rebuts that. And I want to read you a statement we received tonight from the filmmakers, including Kathryn Bigelow. Our upcoming film project about the decade-long pursuit of bin Laden has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. This was an American triumph, both heroic and nonpartisan. And there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise."

Are you satisfied there that they say this will not be partisan?

P. KING: Well, no one said more than I have. This is a great victory for President Obama. He proved himself to be an outstanding commander in chief in this instance. I've said that.

So, I'm not trying to take any credit away from President Obama at all.

But again, all I'm saying is that if this is supposed to be a nonpartisan or unpartisan movie, people in the CIA have told me they were not told it was coming out three weeks before election. So, to me, this raises more questions.

J. KING: It raises more questions. And so, when you get the answers from the inspectors general, if they can satisfy you that sure we met with these guys, but we meet with everybody. They meet with "The Transformers" people when they come in. They meet documentary makers who are doing, you know, factual nonfictional things.

If they satisfy you we had the meetings, they are routine, no classified information, will we get another press release saying I'm satisfied?

P. KING: Depending on what they tell me. I mean, I've been very bipartisan or nonpartisan as chairman of the homeland security committee. I've given Secretary Napolitano credit when I believe she deserves it. I've given President Obama total credit for what happened on May 1st with the killing of bin Laden.

But I'm saying this administration has shown itself incapable of keeping sensitive information secret over the last 90 days. How can we trust them now when they've done such a poor job over the last 90 days?

J. KING: We will circle back. I hope you get your answer, sir, and I hope you check in with us when you do.

Chairman of homeland security committee, Congressman Peter King -- thanks for your time tonight, sir. 

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