The CIA worked extensively – and preferentially – with the crew of the upcoming movie “Zero Dark Thirty” according to just-released documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
The results? The filmmakers were able to “deep dive” into classified material in order to tell the story of the successful hunt for Osama bin Laden “first” with the direct permission of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The new documents show “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal had plenty of help from the Obama administration which sought a propaganda tool for the vital 2012 elections.
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…”
The word “first” is crucial. The film was originally slated to open before the Nov. 6 presidential election and could have been a very handy tool for reminding voters that President Barack Obama was in office when a Navy SEAL team took down bin Laden.
For an industry obsessed with Republican Super PACs and the Koch brothers buying the hearts and minds of voters, no one seemed to mind a potentially huge Obama-friendly movie dropping in time to sway public opinion.
The document dump also fleshes out the kind of access Boal had during the filmmaking process.
In an internal CIA memo regarding Kathryn Bigelow’s visit to agency headquarters dated July 14, 2011, CIA spokesperson Marie Harf describes Boal’s contact with the agency as a “deep dive.” (The memo was originally classified Secret.): “Kathryn is not interested in doing the deep dives that Mark did; she simply wants to meet the people Mark has been talking to.”
Now, why would the film crew get such spectacular help from an agency which surely must have better things to do than making movies?
The documents also reveal collusion between the CIA and The New York Times in what appears to be a case of damage control:
On August 5, 2011, CIA Spokesperson Marie Harf exchanges several e-mails with New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti about the Boal/Bigelow project and, specifically, about a column by Maureen Dowd to be published August 7, 2011, making critical reference to the access the filmmakers were given. Mazzetti gave Harf an advance copy of the article, with the caveat, “this didn’t come from me… and please delete after you read. See, nothing to worry about!”