(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Department of Defense (DOD) regarding meetings and communications between government agencies and Kathryn Bigelow, the Academy Award-winning director of The Hurt Locker, and screenwriter Mark Boal in preparation for their film Zero Dark Thirty, which details the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. According to the records, the Obama administration granted Boal and Bigelow unusual access to agency information in preparation for their film, which was reportedly scheduled for an October 2012 release, just before the presidential election, but the trailers are running now until the rescheduled release in December.
The records – which should have been produced months ago pursuant to a court order in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on January 21, 2012 – include records from a “stack” of “overlooked” documents discovered by the CIA in July 2012. The following are highlights from the records, which include internal DOD, White House and CIA email correspondence with the filmmakers:
- According to a June 15, 2011, email from Benjamin Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, to then Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson, then-CIA Director of Public Affairs George Little, and Deputy White House Press Secretary Jaime Smith, the Obama White House was intent on “trying to have visibility into the UBL (Usama bin Laden) projects.”
“…we are trying to have visibility into the UBL projects and this is likely the most high profile one. Would like to have whatever group is going around in here at the WH [White House] to get a sense of what they’re doing / what cooperation they’re seeking. Jamie will be POC [point of contact].”
- According to e-mail exchange on June 7, 2011, CIA spokesperson Marie E. Harf openly discussed providing preferential treatment to the Boal/Bigelow project over others related to the bin Laden killing: “I know we don’t pick favorites but it makes sense to get behind a winning horse…Mark and Kathryn’s movie is going to be the first and the biggest. It’s got the most money behind it, and two Oscar winners on board…”
- In a July 20, 2011, e-mail, Mark Boal writes to thank then-CIA Director of Public Affairs George Little for “pulling for him” with the agency, noting that it made, “all the difference.” Little responds: “…I can’t tell you how excited we all are (at DOD and CIA) about the project…PS – I want you to know how good I’ve been not mentioning the premiere tickets. :)”
- On July 13, 2011, Mark Boal’s assistant, Jonathan Leven, sent CIA spokesperson Marie Harf a copy of the floor plan of the bin Laden compound and asked him to verify its accuracy: “Per your conversation with Mark, can you verify whether this floor plan is accurate?” The next day Harf responds: “Ok, I checked with our folks, and that floor plan matches with what we have. It looks legit to us.”
- On July 14, 2011, Mark Boal asks CIA spokesperson Marie Harf to provide detailed information regarding the third floor of the compound that were not present on the open-source floor plan: “Would you mind looking into getting us some of the third floor specs…as the open source plan is missing those: height of wall, etc..? We will be building a full scale replica of the house. Including the inhabitants of the animal pen!” Harf responds minutes later: “Ha! Of course I don’t mind! I’ll work on that tomorrow…