We’ve covered Kathryn Bigelow’s (working-tilted) Killing Bin Laden before, and it’s an interesting story of a filmmaker holding on to a lottery ticket without even knowing that the drawing was coming. Now that Bigelow and company have turned on a dime with impressive quickness to integrate the SEAL Team 6 mission into their pre-existing script (allegedly with a ton of inside info), a NY Congressman is calling for an investigation into the relationship between Hollywood (specifically Sony) and the intelligence community. The republican representative sits on or chairs several committees that handle intelligence and homeland security, so this is not an outlandish source for such a request. The Senator is known for being characteristically extreme about homeland security though, and has most recently been involved in controversy over his now-routine “Muslim radicalization” hearings that are looking into the state of Muslim co-operation with terrorism investigations, and the sources of foreign money coming to Mosques in the US.
Take all that how you will.
Here’s a few quick hits from the letter that was sent out calling for the investigation:
• “I write to express concern regarding ongoing leaks of classified information regarding sensitive military operations. As reported in a New York Times column on August 6, 2011, Administration officials may have provided filmmakers with details of the raid that successfully killed Usama bin Laden (UBL). According to that report, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. and movie director Kathryn Bigelow received “top-level access to the most classified mission in history” to produce a movie about the raid, due for release in October 2012. Reportedly, a Hollywood filmmaker also attended a CIA ceremony in honor of the team that carried out the raid.”
….this alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history.”
There are also some specific questions asked…
• “Will a copy of this film be submitted to the military and CIA for pre-publication review, to determine if special operations tactics, techniques and procedures, or Agency intelligence sources and methods, would be revealed by its release?”
• “How was the attendance of filmmakers at a meeting with special operators and Agency officers at CIA Headquarters balanced against those officers’ duties to maintain their covers? How will cover concerns be addressed going forward?”
If I’m honest and do my best to divorce the Senator’s reputation from my look at this specific situation, I must admit that these questions make sense. It’s unprecedented for such an operation to occur and be followed by the kind of media circus that resulted, and in few cases would a film (made my a filmmaker with such a penchant for detail) be made with what seems like significant collaboration. There is another quote that does strike me for this reason…
“Special Operations Command’s Admiral Eric Olson stated that the May 1st raid “was successful because nobody talked about it before, and if we want to preserve this capability nobody better talk about it after,” and that his operators’ “15 minutes of fame lasted about 14 minutes too long. They want to get back in the shadows.”
That makes sense to me. Killing Bin Laden is not the end game for these operative or the military or the intelligence community, and nobody is packing up the game board and playing pieces. The world moves on and so do these agencies, so it’s not like the end of a hand of poker where you get to enjoy relaying your every thought and strategy for each part of the hand, or a movie where the special features painstakingly detail every rig, program, and technique that made this or that visual effect possible. With this kind of thing we get our scraps of details, maybe one particularly well-informed speculative expose and we move on. These days though, we expect to consume and churn every detail through our social network and media machine– to some degree in a demand of transparency, and to some degree out of sheer curiosity and sensationalism.
I don’t know the answers or even have a guess about how much of this information should come out, much less be available to filmmakers. I do know that it’s entirely fair to assume that whatever Bigelow comes up with may ultimately become America’s collective vision of what happened, and will more than likely light a fire storm around it’s controversially-timed release (October before an election). Therefore it’s not a ridiculous notion to ask these questions if the intent truly is to help preserve the operational capabilities of these covert forces. It’s hard to simplify the motivations for any political action these days though, so perhaps it’s all smoke and mirrors and wasted time. I’ve mentioned before that I think United 93 is an example of how a film like this can be done right– simultaneously preserving legitimate details while filling in holes with artistic interpretation. I’m not sure what will happen here, but I’m sure I want to hear your ideas…
So let it out: no doubt you’ve got thoughts on whether this blow-hard right wing Congressman is starting another distracting witch hunt, or if he’s simply asking tough questions that are entirely fair surrounding a huge event in American history. No movie is worth compromising the safety of operatives, or their ability to work, no? Or does the duty of artists to interpret these important events demand transparency?
Let is loose in the comments below, here on the boards, or take it to Twitter…
Source | Deadline