Then-CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed secret information to a Hollywood filmmaker about the Osama bin Laden raid when he gave a CIA speech attended by "Zero Dark Thirty" screenwriter Mark Boal, according to newly released documents.
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appears on a panel at the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., on Nov. 16, 2013. (AFP/Getty Images/Frederic J. Brown)
Panetta was speaking at a "bin Laden assault awards ceremony" on June 24, 2011, according to conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch, which announced Tuesday that it had obtained more than 200 pages of documents from the CIA, including a previously unreleased CIA internal review, in a Freedom of Information Act request.
Panetta said he "had no idea" that Boal, who also produced the 2012 film, was in the audience, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
"I had no idea that individual was in the audience," Panetta said in a statement. "To this day, I wouldn't know him if he walked into the room."
A Panetta spokesman told the Hollywood Reporter that Panetta assumed every audience member was cleared to hear the speech.
Among the details Panetta revealed were the unit that conducted the raid as well as the name of the ground commander, Judicial Watch said.
That it was Panetta who had revealed those details was first acknowledged in an unpublished draft report by Pentagon investigators released in June.
According to Judicial Watch, the entire transcript of Panetta's speech was marked "top secret" and large portions were redacted, though it shows he concluded his remarks: “You have made me proud of the CIA family. And you have made me proud as an Italian to know that bin Laden sleeps with the fishes.”
A CIA security review said the agency's "security policy and administrative procedures were not followed in allowing Mr. Boal, a member of the media, access to the classified Bin Ladin Operation Award Ceremony," according to the documents.
The June 24, 2011 ceremony took place just days before Panetta assumed office as secretary of defense.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has been a top lawmaker voice in questioning whether Washington collaborated at all with the "Zero Dark Thirty" filmmakers.
"CIA was very sloppy and the administration was very sloppy in enforcing security procedures when it came to Hollywood," King said earlier this year. "It almost seems as if they were star-struck."
(H/T: Washington Times)