Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming project about the takedown of Osama bin Laden has been the subject of much speculation. Originally set to be based on a true story about an unspecified military black ops mission, the film was shaken up by the surprise news of Osama bin Laden's death this spring, with reports quickly following that the Bigelow film would include the 40-minute firefight that killed bin Laden, with screenwriter Mark Boal -- a former investigative journalist -- using his research and resources to build out that portion of the film. And apparently, his sourcing is making folks in high places uncomfortable.
Just weeks after it was announced that Columbia will drop the film in the midst of Oscar season next year on October 12, 2012, Maureen Dowd wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Sunday criticizing Barack Obama's current run in office, while offhandedly dropping that Bigelow and Boal are "getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration." Dowd also accused the Obama administration of using the production of the film to enhance the re-election campaign that will be in full thrust come next October.
"The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of Bin Laden to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual. The Sony film by the Oscar-winning pair who made 'The Hurt Locker' will no doubt reflect the president’s cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds," Dowd wrote. "Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 -- perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher...It was clear that the White House had outsourced the job of manning up the president’s image to Hollywood when Boal got welcomed to the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon and showed up recently — to the surprise of some military officers — at a C.I.A. ceremony celebrating the hero Seals."
Because of this article, merely an editorial piece that offers no proof to the allegations except for the fact that Boal showed up to political parties and buildings (while conveniently forgetting that as a journalist, Boal likely has very well-placed sources), Representative Peter T. King (R, NY) has called for an investigation into the White House's cooperation with the filmmakers. King is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Today, White House spokesman Jay Carney issued a statement, calling Dowd's accusations "ridiculous" and said that the filmmakers had been given no classified information whatsoever. Carney threw in one last show, saying, "I would hope that as we face the continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie."
Bigelow and Boal also released a statement that didn't exactly refute the claims, but instead posits the scope of their film and that the operations in Afghanistan will go far beyond that Obama administration. "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," the statement said. "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."
It's an intricate web that has been spun and will probably generate even more attention for Bigelow's film, which has already excited the film community. Filming should start soon.