Report: Panetta disclosed top secret info to filmmaker

Former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed the name of the ground commander who carried out the Osama bin Laden raid at a 2011 CIA awards ceremony attended by “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmaker Mark Boal, according to a draft inspector general (IG) report.

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) published a leaked draft report from the Defense Department’s inspector general, which found that Panetta had revealed information labeled “top secret” at the awards ceremony.

The report does not indicate whether Panetta knew that Boal was at the event, and Panetta was not interviewed by the inspector general.

“'During this awards ceremony, Director Panetta specifically recognized the unit that conducted the raid and identified the ground commander by name,'” the draft report said. “'According to the DOD Office of Security Review, the individual’s name is protected from public release' under federal law.”


Panetta was director of the CIA during the bin Laden raid in 2011, and he then ran the Pentagon until he retired earlier this year.

The report will add fuel to Republican criticisms that the Obama administration leaked classified information to Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty,” a fictional film based on the hunt for bin Laden.

Republicans had accused the administration last year of working with the filmmakers in order to boost President Obama’s reelection prospects. The film’s release date was moved until after the election in response to the criticisms, although the final version included little about the president’s role.

The administration has also come under fire recently for the steps the Justice Department has taken to investigate leaks, including searches of journalists’ personal email accounts and labeling a reporter a potential "criminal co-conspirator."

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), who requested the report in 2011, said in an interview he was most concerned about the report’s releasing being delayed.

“It appears political pressure is the reason that it’s going to be held,” King said. “On a matter of this importance, to have a critical report being held up or interfered with is wrong. That to me warrants another inquiry as to why it’s being held this long.”

POGO reported that there was “consternation” among IG staffers that the report had not been released, as there was a push to make the findings public as early as a year ago.

Inspector general spokeswoman Bridget Ann Serchak said in an email that the report was not yet completed.

“While we do not have a projected date of completion for the referenced report, we are working diligently to complete the project as quickly as possible,” she said in an email. “Once it is released, if it is unclassified, it will be posted on our Listserv and in our newsletter as well as on our website.”

The inspector general draft report says that the special operators believed the June 2011 awards event would be a small affair, but it wound up as a “huge enormous event,” said Jeremy Bash, who was chief of staff to Panetta at both the CIA and Pentagon.

The report quotes him as saying that it was “not a highly sensitive event.”

King said he wanted to know why Boal was given special accommodations to attend the event.

“Obviously, according to this report, a serious mistake was made,” he said.

This story was posted at 10:58 a.m. and updated at 1:09 p.m.