The name of a SEAL Team 6 operator and commander “who was involved from the beginning as a planner” of the raid to kill Osama bin Laden was revealed to a Hollywood director and a screenwriter to assist them in making a feature film about the assassination, but this name cannot now be revealed to the press or public.
Transcripts of conversations between administration officials and the filmmakers, released because of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, contain redactions even though there’s no reason to believe the filmmakers had security clearances.
Politico reports: Just weeks after Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency officials warned publicly of the dangers posed by leaks about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, top officials at both agencies and at the White House granted Hollywood filmmakers unusual access to those involved in planning the raid and some of the methods they used to do it, newly released government records show.
At a briefing in July 2011, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Mike Vickers told filmmakers Michael Boal and Katherine Bigelow that the leaders of the the Special Operations Command couldn’t speak to them for appearances’ sake. However, Vickers said that the Pentagon would make available a Navy SEAL who was involved in planning the raid from its earliest stages.
“On the operators side, Adm. McRaven and Adm. Olson do not want to talk directly, because it’s just a bad, their [sic] just concerned as commanders of the force and they’re telling them all the time—don’t you dare talk to anybody, that it’s just a bad example if it gets out—even with all sorts of restrictions and everything,” Vickers said, according to a transcript of the meeting released Friday to Judicial Watch. The conservative watchdog group filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit demanding the documents (posted here).
“The basic idea is they’ll make a guy available who was involved from the beginning as a planner, a SEAL Team 6 Operator and Commander,” McRaven said.
“That’s dynamite,” Boal replied, according to the transcript.
Bigelow, best known for “The Hurt Locker,” also chimed in. “That’s incredible,” she said, gratefully.
“He’ll speak for operators and he’ll speak for senior military commanders,” Vickers continued, adding that the designated SEAL would essentially be a mouthpiece for McRaven and Olson. “The only thing we ask is that you not reveal his name in any way as a consultant because again it’s the same thing, he shouldn’t be talking out of school, this at least gives him one step removed and he knows what he can and can’t say,” Vickers added, vouching that the SEAL cleared to meet with the filmmakers would be able to provide “lots of color.”
The Pentagon is now withholding from the public and the press the same name DoD gave the filmmakers. The response sent to Judicial Watch explains the deletion by citing privacy concerns as well as a statute allowing the Secretary of Defense to protect the names of members of “routinely deployable” and “sensitive” units. It is unclear whether the court will uphold such a withholding given that the name was already disclosed to a member of the public by a senior official, apparently with some forethought.