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  • Zero Dark Thirty director given ‘roadmap’ behind U.S. stealth mission to kill Osama bin Laden

    Kathryn Bigelow given classified information by high ranking official
    She was also briefed by CIA and military officials and Navy Seals
    Campaign group said the White House has acted improperly

    The director of an Oscar-nominated film about the killing of Osama bin Laden was given classified information about the operation by United States intelligence chiefs.

    Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow and her screenwriting partner Mark Boal were provided with a complete ‘roadmap’ of how the raid was planned during a 45 minute meeting with Michael Vickers – the country’s highest ranking civilian intelligence official.

    The filmmakers also received briefings from top CIA and military intelligence officers and Navy Seals who carried out Operation Neptune Spear – attacking bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan in May 2011.

    Secrecy: Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal were given classified information

    The transcript of the interview, which took place three months after the terrorist leader’s death, has this week been published by the National Security Archive (NSA) at George Washington University in Washington.

    Classified: Intelligence chief Michale Vickers gave information to the filmmakers during an interview

    It follows a freedom of information request by campaign group Judicial Watch. Its president Tom Fitton had said the White House acted improperly by giving ‘politically-connected filmmakers extraordinary and secret access to bin Laden raid information’

    Following the raid, the White House and Pentagon held a series of contradictory briefings and the NSA argues that an authoritative account of the operation has never been published.

    The group accused the Obama administration of sharing the ‘intimate details’ to help the filmmakers release a movie ‘perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost’ last year’s re-election campaign.

    The NSA said much of the operation in Abbottabad is still ‘shrouded in secrecy’, with many details of the raid having never been released.

    Chris Farrell, of Judicial Watch, told The Independent: ‘Either you admit you gave special excess to your pet film directors, or you make the information available to everyone.’

    A statement on the Judicial Watch website said that the film pushed the Obama narrative, and added: ‘Barack Obama comes off as a hero character.

    ‘We see him morally preening on a news program and hear him described as ’thoughtful and analytical.’

    Oscar nominated: Navy SEALs prepare to breach a locked door in bin Laden’s compound in Dark Zero Thirty

    Raid: Pakistani security officials stand guard as workers demolish the compound in Abbottabad

    ‘Boal and Bigelow seemed to have gone out of their way (short of producing a two-hour campaign commercial) to project the Obama administration as ‘gutsy’ for ordering the raid.’

    Hunted: Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in May 2011

    An investigation into whether Mr Vickers broke any rules by briefing Ms Bigelow and Mr Boal has been launched by the Department of Defense.

    Mr Boal and Ms Bigelow, who spent several years working on the film, have insisted that they went through the proper official channels in the intelligence community and did not have access to any classified information.

    Zero Dark Thirty opened across the U.S. on January 11 and has been nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actress for Jessica Chastain and Best Original Screenplay. It was nominated for four Golden Globes, with Chastain winning Best Actress.

    Mr Boal and Ms Bigelow have both won Oscars fro the Hurt Locker. Ms Bigelow has defended her latest film’s torture scene, saying criticism of the practices might be better directed towards government policymakers.

    After bin Laden – who was hunted by the US since the 9/11 terrorist attacks – was killed, the Obama administration said his body was buried at sea off the USS Carl Vinson in accordance with Islamic tradition.

    The raid was completed shortly after 1am local time when he was shot once in the chest and once in the head by a Navy Seal who announced, ‘For God and country Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo’, because Geronimo was the code-name given to the al-Qaeda leader.

    By Alex Gore

    PUBLISHED: 17:53 GMT, 19 January 2013 | UPDATED: 09:00 GMT, 20 January 2013

    Find this story at 19 January 2013

    © Associated Newspapers Ltd