It has been a tough three years for President Obama—and a tougher second term, if the Republicans have their way—but his one unambiguous triumph is the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2nd, 2011, nearly a decade after the September 11th attack. With the election next year and the economy threatening to sink into a double-dip recession, bin Laden stands to be his most potent trump card. (In fact, he may wish to consider answering all criticism with the line, “Yes, but I killed Osama bin Laden.”) And he stands to get some support from Hollywood: Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal, the team behind the excellent Oscar-winning drama The Hurt Locker, have been prepping a movie about the hunt for bin Laden. The tentative release date? October 12, 2012, one month before the election.
the film’s obvious political benefit to Obama’s reelection campaign national security, Republican congressman Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is calling for an investigation into the Obama administration to figure out the nature of their collaboration with Bigelow and Boal. Specifically, King worries that sensitive information about the Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden’s compound has been shared too freely, and that the filmmakers may have had access to covert officers within the military or the CIA.
White House press secretary (and Guided By Voices super-fan) Jay Carney scoffed at the charges: “We do not discuss classified information. And I would hope that as we face the continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie.” And Bigelow and Boal released their own statement:
Our upcoming film project about the decade long pursuit of bin Laden has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, as well as the cooperative strategies and implementation by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. Indeed, the dangerous work of finding the world’s most wanted man was carried out by individuals in the military and intelligence communities who put their lives at risk for the greater good without regard for political affiliation. This was an American triumph, both heroic and non-partisan, and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise.
Based on The Hurt Locker, which also concerned the heroic and non-partisan actions of brave soldiers on the ground, there’s reason to believe that Bigelow and Boal are telling the truth. As Stephen Colbert once said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias,” but it seems unlikely that King will stop until he holds one of his patented embarrassing hearings on the subject. In any case, this is shaping up to be the greatest political scandal of its kind since the great Down Periscope breach of ’96.