Published June 06, 2013
WASHINGTON – A top House Republican is accusing the Obama administration of “hypocrisy” after a draft watchdog report claimed former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta disclosed sensitive information on the Usama bin Laden raid to a Hollywood filmmaker -- even as the Justice Department aggressively pursued other security leaks.
Rep. Peter King, R-NY, sharply criticized the White House for letting the Panetta disclosure slide.
"There is definitely a hypocrisy here," King fumed. "The administration is cracking down on every leak. But here, they themselves are orchestrating leaks. But here you have the White House cooperating with Hollywood. And as a result of that, we have security breaches."
The administration has come under fire for seizing the records of Associated Press and Fox News journalists in separate leak probes, and even labeling a Fox News reporter as a criminal "co-conspirator" in one case.
King said he has seen the draft of the Pentagon inspector general report on the Panetta incident. He said it shows Panetta violated security rules by revealing the name of the raid commander in the presence of "Zero Dark Thirty" filmmaker Mark Boal. Leaking the name of the commander was classified information, King says, and should not have been made public.
The unpublished report was first disclosed by the Project on Government Oversight and confirmed Wednesday by King, who asked for the investigation nearly two years ago.
The report cited two instances when administration officials divulged the names of individuals involved in the bin Laden operation -- in both cases to makers of the film "Zero Dark Thirty." The movie told the story of the decade-long hunt for the Al Qaeda leader and the Navy SEALs raid in which he was killed.
The first instance was a July 15, 2011, interview of the Pentagon's top intelligence official, Michael Vickers, by the film's director, Kathryn Bigelow, and screenwriter Mark Boal. In that session Vickers gave them the name of a special operations planner whose identity was supposed to be protected from public release, the report said.
The second instance was a June 24, 2011, awards ceremony at CIA headquarters in which Panetta identified the ground commander of the SEALs raid, with Boal in attendance. The report did not say whether Panetta knew Boal was present.
But an official familiar with the events defended Panetta. The source told Fox News it's true Panetta revealed the name of the ground commander of the raid to Boal, but that the context was important.
The source said Panetta was delivering a speech classified as secret to a group of CIA attendees, and mentioned the commander in an ad-libbed section. He didn't know Boal was in the audience and did not tell him that information in a private conversation, the source said.
The source also said Boal was instructed ahead of time not to reveal any information he heard during this event and he was instructed not to take notes. Boal never revealed any of this information, and the name of the commander was never published.
The IG report said the ground commander's name was supposed to be protected from public release, under federal law. It also said without further explanation that Panetta "also provided (Defense Department) information identified by original classification authorities as top secret."
A Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren, said the Defense Department had no comment on the draft report.
Bridget Serchak, a spokeswoman for the inspector general, said there is no projected date for finishing the report but that they “are working diligently to complete the project as quickly as possible.” She said if it is unclassified when completed, it will be made public.
King told Fox News earlier Wednesday he had been singled out by White House spokesman Jay Carney during a press conference after he first raised the concerns about the issue.
“(Carney) said I should have more important things to do than worry about a Hollywood movie,” King said.
News of the leak complicates the White House narrative that senior officials have not leaked classified information, and raises questions as to why the news has been kept under wraps for so long. It also comes at a time when there have been reports that it was Panetta who went to Attorney General Eric Holder and pushed him to take action regarding Fox News' reporting on North Korea’s nuclear weapon capabilities. It was that case that led to the department labeling a Fox News reporter as a "co-conspirator."
Fox's Chad Pergram and Justin Fishel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.