Rep. King calls alleged leak to bin Laden filmmakers ‘troubling’ as probe widens

The alleged Pentagon disclosure of classified information on the Osama bin Laden raid to filmmakers has drawn the ire of a top House Republican.

House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday called reports that details of the special operations mission that killed the al Qaeda leader were passed on to producers of "Zero Dark Thirty," an upcoming film, “quite troubling.”

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King’s comments come amid reports that the Pentagon’s Inspector General office, which initially probed the alleged disclosures, has referred the matter to investigators at the Justice Department (DOJ). 

The DOJ investigation is "an indication that our security ... was, indeed, placed at risk by people who wanted to help Hollywood make a movie," King said in a statement issued Monday. 

Investigators are probing allegations that Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers disclosed the name of a Special Operations officer who participated in the planning of the bin Laden raid during an interview with the filmmakers.

Vickers, a former Army Special Forces and CIA operations officer, is rumored to be on the White House's short list to replace former agency director David Petraeus, who stepped down as CIA chief in November. 

Prior to assuming the top spot in the Pentagon's intelligence directorate, Vickers led the department's special operations and low-intensity conflict division. 

King and other congressional Republicans have sharply criticized the Obama administration for giving unprecedented access to details of the bin Laden raid to filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal.

The initial December release date of their film was pushed back to January, well past the November presidential elections, after Republicans complained that the film was being used to boost the Obama administration's image on national security.

The Defense Department (DOD), however, is denying the recent allegations that classified information was disclosed to the film’s producers. 

DOD spokesman George Little told Foreign Policy on Monday that Vickers' comments during the interview with the filmmakers were completely above board and did not include any sensitive or classified details.  

A thorough evaluation of the interview transcript between Vickers and the producers concluded that the DOD intelligence chief did not go beyond providing merely "strategic context" for the moviemakers on the bin Laden mission, dubbed Operation Neptune Spear, according to Little. 

"The review concluded that the transcript was unclassified in its totality, including with respect to the names of individuals mentioned in the course of the interview," he added.

That said, Little did acknowledge the DOD inquiry into the matter, but said he had no knowledge of the Justice Department's involvement into the investigation. 

The release of the book No Easy Day in August, written by a former member of the Navy's vaunted SEAL Team Six who was part of the assault team in the bin Laden raid, prompted DOD to revamp its policies regarding disclosures of classified or sensitive information.

DOD claims the book included classified information regarding the raid and other clandestine missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. 

The Pentagon also threatened legal action against the author, who penned the book under the pseudonym Mark Owen, alleging he broke the non-disclosure agreement he signed while still with the SEAL teams by including classified details of the mission in the book. 

Producers Bigelow and Boal are scheduled to be in Washington to discuss the making of their film during an event at the Newseum on Jan. 8.