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Exclusive: New Documents in Zero Dark Thirty Affair Raise Questions of White House Sanctioned Intelligence Leak and Inspector General Coverup

CIA staff worked closely with Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers and used White House-approved talking points about the intelligence used to locate Osama bin Laden, according to an article published today by the Project On Government Oversight.

A document obtained by POGO—a newly uncovered version of a draft report by the Department of Defense Inspector General—reveals new details about the high-level government access filmmakers had during their research, which included the full cooperation of then-CIA Director Leon Panetta. POGO’s article raises questions about the Pentagon watchdog’s decision to remove derogatory findings about Panetta and a top deputy in the final version of the report released to the Pentagon and Congress.

The exact contents of the White House-approved talking are not publicly known but the possibility that the talking points may have been a prime source for the portrayal of how Bin Laden was located puts Zero Dark Thirty’s inaccuracies in a troubling light. That portrayal has been sharply criticized by leading U.S. Senators for being untrue.

Another document obtained by POGO—a timeline of the IG’s probe—shows that then-Acting IG Lynne Halbrooks removed Panetta’s name from her report on the same day she had a meeting with Panetta (by then the Secretary of Defense) and his chief of staff.

The current IG, Jon Rymer, recently called Halbrooks his “closest advisor” and said the IG office “maintained our independence and acted appropriately throughout the Zero Dark Thirty project.” Halbrooks announced her resignation last week.

To read POGO’s article, go here.

By: Adam Zagorin
Journalist in Residence, POGO

Adam Zagorin, Journalist in Residence Adam Zagorin is a journalist in residence for the Project On Government Oversight. Adam's work dives into many different areas including corruption and the financial arena.

Topics: Government Accountability, National Security

Authors: Adam Zagorin

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