Bin Laden film 'jeopardises national security'

A Republican lawmaker has accused the Obama administration of jeopardising national security by cooperating with a Hollywood director planning a film on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Representative Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, demanded an inquiry after learning of the Pentagon's collaboration with Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow.

"I write to express concern regarding ongoing leaks of classified information regarding sensitive military operations," King wrote in a letter to the inspectors general at the Pentagon and CIA.

Cooperating with a film "about the raid is bound to increase such leaks, and undermine these organizations' hard-won reputations as 'quiet professionals,"' he wrote.

The White House dismissed the criticism as "ridiculous," saying it was routine for officials to speak with filmmakers or authors to ensure accuracy but that no secret information was divulged.

"We do not discuss classified information. And 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," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

The Pentagon said there have been preliminary discussions with Bigelow and and journalist-turned screenwriter Mark Boal about a film focusing on the hunt for bin Laden.

"It's customary to provide established filmmakers with technical information, script research type stuff," said Phil Strub, who oversees the defence Department's cooperation with the film industry.

The Pentagon allows filmmakers and television producers access to US military bases, ships or aircraft after reviewing a script and approving how troops and the armed forces are portrayed.

The talks with Bigelow, who won Oscar awards and other acclaim for the 2008 Iraq bomb squad movie "The Hurt Locker," were at a preliminary stage and there had been no formal request to film Blackhawk helicopters or other military hardware, Strub said.

Bigelow had already been working on a project about the Al-Qaeda chief's capture or killing before Navy SEAL commandos gunned bin Laden down at his Pakistani hideout on May 2.

Strub said the filmmaker met Michael Vickers, undersecretary of defence for intelligence, who gave her an overview of the Bin Laden operation and the decision-making process surrounding the raid.

Vickers, a former CIA paramilitary officer and member of the Army Special Forces, was featured in the book "Charlie Wilson's War" about US support for Afghan fighters against the Soviet. Vickers was portrayed in the 2007 film adaptation.

- AFP

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