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'I look forward to an update on the investigation and actions taken thus far,' Peter King said. | AP Photo
By SEUNG MIN KIM | 1/5/12 11:22 AM EST Updated: 1/5/12 1:17 PM EST
Rep. Peter King said Thursday that the Defense Department has launched an investigation into whether its personnel leaked information to producers for a film — to be directed by Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow — on the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
King, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, previously called for a probe to look into any sort of cooperation between federal agencies and producers for the movie, which at the time had been scheduled for an October release — a month before the elections.
“The leaks that followed the successful bin Laden mission led to the arrests of Pakistanis and put in danger the mission’s heroes and their families,” King said in a statement Thursday. “Privately, individuals in the intelligence and special operations communities expressed support for my request for a probe. I look forward to an update on the investigation and actions taken thus far.”
The Defense Department said in a letter released Thursday by King’s committee that Pentagon officials decided to launch the investigation “immediately” after an initial review by the Office of the Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence and Special Program Assessments. The letter from the Pentagon was marked Dec. 23, 2011, and King received it last Friday, according to his office.
Meanwhile, the CIA was creating a new policy in response to King’s request. The agency’s Office of Public Affairs was developing a new guideline to “create a single point of reference that will govern future interactions with the entertainment industry,” according to a Nov. 8, 2011, letter to King from the CIA that was also released Thursday.
King called for the investigation in August 2011. At the time, White House press secretary Jay Carney dismissed King’s accusations as “ridiculous” and said the administration does “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.”
The matter stems from an Aug. 6, 2011, New York Times piece by columnist Maureen Dowd, who wrote that Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were getting “top-level access to the most classified mission in history” for their movie, which would’ve given a “homestretch boost” to Obama’s reelection campaign with an October release.
The Times reported later that Sony officials were considering delaying the release until later in 2012, after the elections or possibly in early 2013.