Pentagon Official Slapped for Leaking Secrets to Filmmaker

Tuesday, 18 Dec 2012 10:05 AM

By Bill Hoffmann

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A Defense Department official is in hot water for revealing sensitive military information to the makers of the smash movie “Zero Dark Thirty’’ — a slip that could potentially put the life of an elite Navy SEAL in danger, ABC News reports.

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers is said to have handed over the name of a SEAL Team Six member that the filmmakers, including Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigalow and screenwriter Mark Boal, could use as a consultant — information that is usually classified.

“Zero Dark Thirty,’’ about the CIA’s ten-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, opens tomorrow under a cloud of controversy for its gut-wrenching scenes of torture, which some critics say are glorified by the movie.

The soldier whose identity was bared was not a part of the squad that killed bin Laden, but the leaking of his name “is potentially a big deal’’ because he now could be targeted by terrorists,’’ ABC’s Jake Tapper says.

It’s also a major embarrassment for the Pentagon, which prides itself on keeping military secrets under wraps.

According to Tapper, the Defense Department’s Inspector General is preparing a report that will criticize Vickers for his candor with the moviemakers.

Documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, reveal that Vickers told the filmmakers he would give them a “planner, SEAL Team 6 Operator and Commander,” but urged, “that you not reveal his name in any way as a consultant because . . . he shouldn’t be talking out of school.”

Last month, Judicial Watch revealed that Obama Administration officials had disclosed in sworn court documents that leaked information could “unnecessary security and counterintelligence risk” if released to the public.

The Atlantic Wire says the worst repercussions of the gaffe could result in the exposed SEAL Team Six member and his family being hunted down.

“The very idea that Pentagon officials were more closely involved in making the film than they should have been will surely throw up a lot of red flags with the American public,’’ the Atlantic Wire says.

“It could also add to the collective outrage over some of the film’s scenes, which critics say glorify torture and even inaccurately portray how the events really played out.’’

According to ABC News, some believe the report critical of Vickers is being held until current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta retires to spare him any humiliation, an allegation being denied by one defense official.

“Zero Dark Thirty,’’ which stars Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke, has received critical acclaim and made numerous Top Ten lists with critics saying it’s a shoo-in for several Academy Awards. New York Times critic Manhola Dargis wrote that the movie "shows the dark side of that war. It shows the unspeakable and lets us decide if the death of Bin Laden was worth the price we paid."

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