News & Politics

Congressman Peter King Wants to Crack Down on Hollywood

The New York congressman seeks stricter standards after classified information about bin Laden was reportedly leaked to Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow.

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If Congressman Peter King gets his way, Hollywood filmmakers will have a harder time making movies about events that relate to national security. He’s asked the Pentagon and the CIA to come up with a stricter method of dealing with the entertainment industry.

What prompted the New York Republican’s concern is a film in production by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow about the killing of Osama bin Laden. King says he heard the Obama administration was giving Bigelow access to sensitive information about the raid, leading him to demand an investigation by the Department of Defense and the CIA.

King says the preliminary investigation must have found something relevant, because the DOD inspector general decided to move forward with a formal investigation, which, according to King, is underway now. Neither Bigelow nor her screenwriting partner, Mark Boal, has commented publicly, but it’s well known that they were working on the bin Laden film even before the Al Qaeda leader was killed by a team of Navy SEALs in May 2011.

“I have been told by people in the intelligence community that there were going to be high-level contacts between the administration and Bigelow and Boal,” says King, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and serves on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “I was concerned whether any info had been given to them already and what protections would be in place in the future.”

King says that though he does not want sensitive information popping up onscreen, his intention is not to interfere with the filmmaking process. “There should be a movie about this,” he says. “There was phenomenal bravery and courage. And forget the election—if I wanted to make a political spectacle, I would call for a hearing.” What concerns him is whether something in the film could “unintentionally give vital information to the enemy, something seemingly innocuous like the date particular information had been found or the route our helicopters followed to evade Pakistani radar.”

What King would like to see is a “single point of reference that would govern future interactions with the entertainment industry.” He says a plan is in the works to create this “monitoring” office, and he’s waiting for the DOD and the CIA to “get back to us and tell us how they are doing it.” He does not expect to hold hearings on the matter at this point, because he has confidence in the people in charge of the efforts. “I’m expecting them to handle it internally right now,” he says.

As for Hollywood bigwigs, they may have to work harder to woo Congressman King. When asked if he’d seen Bigelow’s hit film The Hurt Locker, King admits he watched only a part of it. Could he say whether he liked it? “No, I can’t.”

And when it comes to the Bigelow and Boal film, so far named only “Untitled International Thriller” according to IMDB, King says, “They can make whatever movie they want. I like a positive movie about the military, a positive movie about Obama.” Without being too specific, King says, “I know people who were in the Situation Room that night, and a number of [Obama’s] top advisers told him not to go ahead with [the raid], that it was too risky, but he did, and he deserves great credit for that.” But if the film is going to be made, he says, “I want the Defense Department to be monitoring every bit of information that is given out. I don’t want anybody freelancing.”