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Leon Panetta Revealed ‘Top Secret’ Information to Hollywood Filmmaker at bin Laden Assault Awards Ceremony

Documents obtained by Judicial Watch also reveal former CIA Director told ceremony attendees: “And you have made me proud as an Italian to know that bin Laden sleeps with the fishes.” 

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained more than 200 pages of documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including a previously unreleased CIA internal report confirming that former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed classified information at a June 24, 2011, bin Laden assault awards ceremony attended by “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmaker Mark Boal. The documents were produced in response to a June 21, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Significantly, the entire transcript of the Panetta speech provided to Judicial Watch by the CIA is classified “Top Secret.”  More than 90 lines are redacted for security reasons, further confirming that significant portions of the speech should not have been made in front of the filmmaker who lacked top security clearance.

At the conclusion his speech, the transcript shows Panetta told the audience at the ceremony, “You have made me proud of the CIA family. And you have made me proud as an Italian to know that bin Laden sleeps with the fishes.”

During the speech, according to a draft Pentagon inspector general’s report released earlier this year, “Director Panetta specifically recognized the unit that conducted the raid and identified the ground commander by name.” Subsequent to the ceremony, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said, “CIA was very sloppy and the administration was very sloppy in enforcing security procedures when it came to Hollywood. It almost seems as if they were star-struck.” Significantly, for some reason, the final IG report omitted any reference to Panetta’s disclosure of “TOP SECRET” and other sensitive information at an event.”

Also, included in the documents provided to Judicial Watch is an October 22, 2012, internal  “Review of UBL Awards Ceremony Attendance” written by the CIA Office of Security (OS) concluding that, “The Agency’s Security policy and administrative procedures were not followed in allowing Mr. Boal, a member of the media, access to the classified Bin Ladin Operation Award Ceremony.” The three-page Review also states, “The review conducted by OS leads to the conclusion that the failure to follow stipulations in ARs [redacted] resulted in the disclosure of classified information to a member of the media, without benefit of any documentation to reflect a waiver to the above policies.”

Highlights of the newly released documents also include:

The inclusion of Boal at the CIA ceremony was not the only instance of the Obama administration apparently attempting to influence the production of the “Zero Dark Thirty” movie. In August 2012, Judicial Watch released records it obtained from the CIA and the Department of Defense pursuant to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit regarding meetings and communications between government agencies, Boal, and film director Kathryn Bigelow, as they prepared to shoot “Zero Dark Thirty.” According to a June 15, 2011, email from Benjamin Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, the Obama White House was intent on “trying to have visibility into the UBL (Usama bin Laden) projects and this is likely a high profile one.”

“The new CIA internal documents obtained confirm conclusively that former CIA Director Panetta breeched national security in order to curry favor with Hollywood filmmakers who the Obama administration hoped would make a pro-Obama film,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The sensitivities about classifies leaks from this administration don’t seem to extend to top level officials like Mr. Panetta.  This new information suggests that criminal probe of this dangerous leak is appropriate. At the conclusion his speech, Panetta told the audience at the ceremony, “You have made me proud of the CIA family. And you have made me proud as an Italian to know that bin Laden sleeps with the fishes.”

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