The Central Intelligence Agency said it “inadvertently overlooked” documents related to an upcoming movie about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, now titled “Zero Dark Thirty,” CNN reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, the CIA had failed to hand over the documents, which were related to the agency’s assistance to filmmakers creating the movie, as part of a lawsuit filed against the CIA and the Department of Defense.
A court document revealed the oversight in the lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, “which is seeking information about how much the CIA and Pentagon disclosed about the raid by cooperating with filmmakers,” CNN reported.
“The CIA discovered a 4- to 5-inch stack of records,” the filing by the government’s attorney, Marcia Berman told CNN.
“From its initial review of the documents, the CIA has determined that the newly discovered documents are responsive to plaintiff’s request but contain some duplicates of produced records,” Berman added.
Judicial Watch said the documents, which consist of 30 files (primarily e-mails), were supposed to be handed over two months ago under a federal court order.
“The documents showed, for example, that a defense official offered the filmmakers access to a planner from SEAL Team 6, the super-secret Special Operations unit that successfully executed the high-stakes raid in Pakistan last year,” CNN reported, adding that it is not clear if any such access eventually took place.
U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said in August last year that the Defense Department is cooperating with filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal as they work on a motion picture about the raid that killed bin Laden.
The two, who collaborated on the Oscar-winning Iraq war movie “The Hurt Locker,” had reportedly been developing the bin Laden film even before the al-Qaeda leader was killed on May 2011 in a raid on a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.
The CIA documents reportedly include a transcript from a meeting, on July 14 of last year, in which “Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers told Bigelow and Boal that the defense department would offer up a plum interview,” CNN reported.
“This new ‘discovery’ and resulting delay stinks to high heaven - maybe an independent criminal leak investigation can look into this issue, too,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, told CNN.
The government has asked the court for an extension until August 24 to properly review the documents but Judicial Watch is objecting to the request.
“They are suggesting that many are duplicative, so even less reason,” not to turn them over sooner,” he said.
In August last year, the U.S. administration dismissed concerns that classified information has been divulged to assist moviemakers producing a film about the U.S. special forces raid that killed bin Laden.
Republican Peter King, Chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, had called for an investigation into contacts between the administration and the filmmakers. King questioned whether special operations methods had been compromised.
“The claims are ridiculous,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told a White House briefing in August 2011.
“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,” Carney added.
According to a Reuters report also in August 2011, the film, focusing on one of President Barack Obama’s key successes in office, is due to be released in October 2012, less than a month before the election in which the Democrat is seeking a second term.