In Obama administration, Hollywood trumps national security

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed classified information on the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in a speech during his time as director, an inspector general's report confirmed.


Former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed the name of the Navy SEAL unit that carried out the Osama bin Laden raid and named the unit's ground commander at a 2011 ceremony attended by "Zero Dark Thirty" filmmaker Mark Boal.

Panetta also discussed classified information designated as "top secret" and "secret" during his presentation at the awards ceremony, according to a draft Pentagon inspector general's report published Wednesday by the Project on Government Oversight.

A source close to Panetta said Wednesday evening that he was unaware anyone without the proper security clearances was present at the event, which included both CIA and military personnel.

"He has no idea who all is in the audience. He was told everyone got the requisite clearances," said the source, who asked not to be named.

Panetta's prepared speech was classified "secret," according to the source. That may have led the CIA director to believe he could speak freely about the operation.

The leaked version of the report does not address whether Panetta knew Boal was present at the ceremony, held under a tent at the CIA complex on June 24, 2011. "Approximately 1,300" people from the military and the intelligence community were on hand for the event, according to a CIA press release issued the following week.

The disclosure of the IG report could undermine the Obama administration's claims that senior officials have not leaked classified information. Last spring, Republicans publicly attacked President Barack Obama and his top aides, alleging that the administration leaked national security secrets to burnish Obama's standing for his reelection bid.

Word that Panetta, a key member of Obama's national security team, might have been responsible for improper disclosures without encountering any known repercussions comes as the administration faces questions over the fairness of the aggressive anti-leak investigations and prosecutions being mounted by the Justice Department.

We are supposed to believe that authorization for Mr. Boal to be in the audience came from some CIA PR flunky? It should be an easy enough job to find who authorized Mr. Boal to attend the function. Don't they keep such records?

Even if they don't maintain records of this sort, and given the CIA's mania for secrecy, it would be logical that waiving the usual security concerns so that Boal could be in the audience would have to come from someone pretty high up at the agency. It wouldn't be wild speculation to guess that person to be Panetta himself.

It's clear that the CIA gave Boal and his production unprecedented assistance in the making of the film. While a treat for moviegoers, how that impacted national security is another matter. But given the notion that the Obama administration saw "Zero Dark Thirty" as a 2 hour campaign commercial, we can guess their priorities when it came to classified information.