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White House Says it Gave Sony No Special Access For Bin Laden Film

Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has sent a letter to DOD and the CIA calling for an investigation into the report in an Aug. 6 column in The New York Times  that administration officials may have provided director Kathy Bigelow "high-level access" to details of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The White House has countered that suggestions that it provided any special access or information is "simply false," and that King's Committee has better things to do than worry about a movie.

King says that the Obama Administration's first duty in declassifying material is "to provide full reporting to Congress and the American people, in an effort to build public trust through transparency of government.

Concerned that the film is coming out just before the November 2012 election and "belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history," King said he wants some answers.

"I request an investigation and classified briefing regarding this matter from the Defense Department's and CIA's Inspectors General, including but not limited to the following," said King:

* "What consultations, if any, occurred between members of the Executive Office of the President, and Department of Defense and/or CIA officials, regarding the advisability of providing Hollywood executives with access to covert military operators and clandestine CIA officers to discuss the UBL raid?

* Will a copy of this film be submitted to the military and CIA for pre-publication review, to determine if special operations tactics, techniques and procedures, or Agency intelligence sources and methods, would be revealed by its release?

* How was the attendance of filmmakers at a meeting with special operators and Agency officers at CIA Headquarters balanced against those officers' duties to maintain their covers? How will cover concerns be addressed going forward?"

To read the entire letter, click here.

A Sony Pictures Television representative was not available for comment. The National Security Council press office, which is handling responses, did not have a comment at press time.

In his daily press conference, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the suggestion that the administration shared classified info with SPE for the film is "simply false."

"The claims are ridiculous," said Carney. "When people, including you in this room, are working on articles, books, documentaries or movies that involve the President, ask to speak to administration officials we do our best to accommodate them to make sure the facts are correct. That is hardly a novel approach to the media. We do not discuss classified information. And I would hope that we face a continued threat from terrorism the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie."

He said the information the White House provided about the mission has focused on the role of the President, and that it has provided no information to anyone working on the topic from the info it gave reporters in the days immediately after the raid. "The most specific information we have given from this White House about the actual raid, I read to you from this podium, so it was just simply false."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.