Leak allegations against DOD on Bin Laden raid are ‘irresponsible’, says top House Dem

“They are looking into what happened and they will figure it out,” regarding the Pentagon inquiry into Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers and his cooperation with the makers of the upcoming film “Zero Dark Thirty,” Rep. Adam Smith told The Hill on Wednesday. 

{mosads}”The reports we have seen in the press simply do not match the facts,” Smith added. 

The film, which has already garnered critical acclaim and Oscar buzz for its dramatization of the CIA and DOD manhunt for the infamous al Qaeda leader, reportedly received unprecedented access about the mission — dubbed Operation Neptune Spear — from the Obama administration. 

Republicans have repeatedly hammered the Obama administration for leaking classified information on everything from cyber warfare operations in Iran to drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in an attempt to bolster the White House’s national security bonafides. 

The most recent inquiry by the Pentagon Inspector General’s office is focused on whether Vickers revealed the name of a Special Operations officer who participated in the planning of the bin Laden raid during an interview with the filmmakers.

On Monday, recent news reports stated that DOD had referred the issue to investigators at the Department of Justice. 

But Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement issued Tuesday evening that the press reports on Vickers were “unwarranted, unfounded and unfair.”

“Senior special operations officers approved in advance the offer Mr. Vickers made to arrange a potential discussion with a special operations planner — someone who was not part of the bin Laden raid team — but such a meeting never occurred,” Little said at the time. 

For his part, Smith reiterated DOD stance on the issue, noting that whatever information Vickers exchanged with movie makers was authorized by the Pentagon. 

“They viewed [the information] it was unclassified, [but] obviously they are taking a look at this issue, because it has been raised about what was revealed and what was not,” Smith said.  

That said, rampant speculation whether Vickers did disclose classified information regarding the Bin Laden raid “has been completely off base and irresponsible,” while the Pentagon’s inquiry is still ongoing, Smith said. 

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. 

Regardless of how the DOD or Justice Department investigations play out, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the inquiries are symptomatic of a larger problem of intelligence leaks coming from the Obama White House. 

“There have been way too many leaks [on the raid] coming out of the administration and I am glad there is an investigation ongoing to get to the bottom of it, find out who is responsible and hold them accountable,” Cornyn said on Wednesday. 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said the recent flood of sensitive information concerning U.S. national security matters into the public arena has had a devastating impact on those efforts. 

“It seems to me that these leaks of highly classified information [has] compromised sources, discouraged our allies from cooperating with us and potentially endangered lives,” Collins said. 

“I have always thought it was important to look at this [issue] because the consequences, potentially, are so serious,” she added. 

When asked if she would see the film, Collins replied here moviegoing priorities were elsewhere. “My movie priority is to see Lincoln, that is the one I most want to see,” she said. 

As a father of two young children, Smith said his movie options would likely not include a film with such a violent and intense subject matter. 

I have 9 and 12-year old kids,” Smith said with a chuckle. “So basically, unless there are cartoons involved, the options for me to see movies are very low.” 

Tags Adam Smith John Cornyn Susan Collins

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