Despite the objections of Pentagon career officials, political appointees at the CIA, the Defense Department and the White House assisted the screenwriter and director of "Zero Dark Thirty" in researching their 2012 film about the top-secret raid to kill Osama bin Laden, The Washington Times reports.
According to a report from the Pentagon’s inspector general, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Mike Vickers and various staff members in both agencies, as well as the White House, arranged a meeting between the filmmakers and someone deeply involved with planning or participating in the 2011 Navy Seal raid.
"At the direction of Director Panetta, the CIA is cooperating fully" with the filmmakers, Vickers wrote to Douglas Wilson, who at the time was the assistant defense secretary for public affairs.
Wilson's response was a promise to "check with the [White House] to update them on status."
It was through these efforts that screenwriter Mark Boal was among the attendees of a June 2011 CIA ceremony honoring participants of the raid.
This did not sit well with many staff and career officials at both the Pentagon and CIA.
One CIA official tried to prevent Boal from attending the ceremony, although he was eventually ushered in by CIA public affairs officer Marie Harff, who left her job a short time later to join President Obama's re-election campaign.
Both Philip M. Strub, the Pentagon's director of entertainment media and the main liaison to the movie industry and Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, the incoming commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, were reticent to work with Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow, but would do so if the Pentagon decided to support the film.
In order to garner such support, filmmakers are required to submit a script and final edit of their movie to Pentagon officials for approval.
While never formally asking for Defense Department support, Boal requested and received assistance from senior officials.
Boal never submitted a "Zero Dark Thirty" script for Pentagon approval.
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