Kathryn Bigelow & Writer Mark Boal Did Get Their Hands On Classified Info After All For 'Zero Dark Thirty'

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by Kevin Jagernauth
May 24, 2012 7:00 PM
9 Comments
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Remember last year when allegations flew that director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal had gained access to some classified or, at the very least top level intelligence about the raid that would end up killing Osama Bin Laden for their film "Zero Dark Thirty"? Well, it looks like they did. Ruh roh.

Watchdog group Judicial Watch (via EW) have done some digging and according to them, the Defense Department let Bigelow and Boal talk to the “planner, Operator and Commander” of the Seal Team 6 mission, and were cautioned to keep this name out of any official production notes “because…he shouldn’t be talking out of school.” So in essence, one could surmise the DoD (and filmmakers) knew what they were doing was wrong, or at least not entirely on the level. But wait, there's more. Bigelow and the filmmaking team were apparently also granted access to The Vault, the building where the CIA planned their mission.

“These documents, which took nine months and a federal lawsuit to disgorge from the Obama administration, show that politically-connected filmmakers were giving extraordinary and secret access to bin Laden raid information, including the identity of a Seal Team Six leader,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement. Somebody has some explaining to do....

Meanwhile, Bigelow and Boal continue to take the tack that what they did -- ethical/legal or not, which is what we suppose will be grappled with over the next few months -- has nothing to with partisan politics, and the studio has put forth the same statement they did last year to the LA Times: "“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, as well as the cooperative strategies and implementation by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. Indeed, the dangerous work of finding the world’s most wanted man was carried out by individuals in the military and intelligence communities who put their lives at risk for the greater good without regard for political affiliation. This was an American triumph, both heroic, and non-partisan and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise.”

All branches of the armed forces have generally had no problem participating/advising Hollywood productions in the past, though we'd wager if this situation gets any more ugly, those kinds of arrangements might become harder to come by. And while folks will be looking to politicize this, we trust that Bigelow and Boal were looking for accuracy more than anything else: “Part of the challenge for us is to capture how difficult this was because there is a version of it that in hindsight, it just looks like it fell into place,” Boal told the DoD in a meeting last summer. “That is why I just wanted to ask you hypothetically about what could have happened wrong, because it makes it more dramatic when it all goes right.”

Either way, one of this fall's most exciting pictures just got an extra layer of interest. Pro-Obama propaganda or the best damn account of the raid on Bin Laden's compound we're going to get? We'll find out when the movie opens, after the election, on December 19th.

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9 Comments

  • Stevo the Magnificent | May 25, 2012 2:04 AMReply

    I don't blame Kathryn Bigelow for this, if I were her, I would have jumped at the access she supposedly got, it's the fault of the current U.S. administration and their seemingly cavalier attitude to national security, not to mention their determined mindset that partisan political concerns should trump the normal official rules and regulations concerning highly classified information... if a Republican administration had done this, every Democrat, liberal, and organ of the lamestream media would be screaming for impeachment hearings and Congressional investigations, what's good for the goose should be good for the gander...

  • Zack | May 26, 2012 7:19 PM

    Actual people say "lamestream media"? That's... that's so sad.

  • thatsallIcareabout | May 24, 2012 11:37 PMReply

    all I care is that this is shot in 2.35:1

  • No | May 24, 2012 10:23 PMReply

    After the movie comes out and everybody collects their awards and notices, will anyone be concerned about the one man left behind: Dr. Shakil Afridi?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/24/world/asia/doctor-who-helped-find-bin-laden-given-jail-term-official-says.html?_r=1&ref=world

  • PapushiSun | May 25, 2012 4:26 AM

    He should never have been left behind. He and his family should've been granted residence in the US before the raid even took place. Incredible how they just left him behind. One hopes a deal like the recent Chen Guangchen one can be reached.

  • anon | May 25, 2012 1:01 AM

    they should send the seals in there to extract his ass too

  • anon | May 25, 2012 1:00 AM

    +1, fucked up.

  • Kevin Klawitter | May 24, 2012 7:29 PMReply

    You seem to have missed the part where a spokesperson for the Nationa Security Council said “When people, including press, authors, filmmakers, documentarians, who are working on projects that involve the President ask to speak with administration officials, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure the facts are correct... That’s hardly a novel approach to the media. We do not discuss classified information. The information that the White House provided about the bin Laden raid was focused on the President’s role in that decision making process. The same information was given to the White House press corps.”

    And besides, before he became a screenwriter, Mark Boal was (and still is ) a journalist. If you wan to tell a story, getting your facts straight is the name of the game.

    I can't help but wonder where these controversies were when "Act of Valor" (also said to be based on true events, excuse me, true "acts of valor") was being filmed.

  • Zack | May 24, 2012 8:44 PM

    Of course not, because "Acts of Valor" was marketed as a movie for Real Murka, with a not-so-subtle implication that mainstream Hollywood is somehow insufficiently respectful to the military (even though we just had a major studio use a board game as an excuse to pimp the Navy for two hours).

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