(Special Operations Speaks) – WASHINGTON, DC â€“ Special Operations Speaks (SOS) today called upon Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to resign from office for his claim that Barack Obama had special authority to provide classified information about the Navy SEAL attack on Osama bin Laden to Hollywood filmmakers and others with no security clearance.
Panetta made the claim in a September 10th interview on CBS This Morning. As he threatened to punish former Navy SEAL â€œMark Owenâ€ for revealing details about the assault on the bin Laden compound in his book No Easy Day, he stated that Department of Defense release of top secret information to Hollywood filmmakers â€œâ€¦were authorized by the President of the United States, who has that authorityâ€¦â€
â€œMr. Panetta’s claim reveals a profoundly disturbing sense of his role â€“ and that of the President â€“ in protecting both national security and the lives of our soldiers,â€ said SOS co-founder and chairman CAPT Larry Bailey, USN (Ret). â€œIf he really believes that the President is justified in handing out classified information to his Hollywood cronies, his ignorance of the both the letter and the spirit of the law requires he resign. And if he doesn’t, his duplicity disqualifies him from office.
â€œHe is clearly putting his allegiance to the man who appointed him above his loyalty to the office he holds. And for that, he should forthwith resign from office.â€
According to government documents obtained by the legal watchdog group Judicial Watch, beginning in mid-2011, the Obama/Panetta Defense Department begin providing special access to individuals and information involved in the bin Laden assault to Kathryn Bigelow, the director of The Hurt Locker, and screenwriter Mark Boal. Bigelow and Boal are making a film expected to be laudatory of the President’s role in the assault.
The White House has denied that the filmmakers were given classified information. But, government emails and transcripts obtained by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act suggest that is not the case. The documents show that Hollywood film crews were given exclusive access to classified facilities and were allowed to meet with top administration officials.
SOS is not alone in its strong reaction to the Obama/Panetta revelations. Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called the special treatment given to the filmmakers â€œoutrageous,â€ adding, â€œIf these filmmakers got access that trained national security and military reporters did not, then itâ€™s telling the public: â€˜We are not going to allow trained journalists to tell this story. If you want to know what happened, go buy a ticket to a movie.â€™â€
Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists said, â€œThe whole interaction with the filmmakers appears to be self-serving and self-aggrandizing [attempts] in an election year to glorify the administration.â€
According to the Judicial Watch FOI documents, one of those to whom the Obama/Panetta DOD provided the filmmakers exclusive access was the â€œplanner, SEAL Team 6 Operator and Commander.â€ In confirming the set-up, Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers appears to acknowledge the top-secret nature of the information being revealed saying, â€œThe only thing we ask is that you not reveal his name in any way as a consultant because . . . he shouldnâ€™t be talking out of school.â€
Also according to the FOI documents, the filmmakers were provided rare access to â€œThe Vaultâ€ â€“ which is described in the documents as the CIA building where some of the tactical planning for the bin Laden raid took place. So sensitive is â€œThe Vaultâ€ that the actual location of the building has been redacted in the documents provided Judicial Watch.
The documents further reveal that according to DOD officials, the DOD was â€œbasically using W[hite] H[ouse]-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.â€ Significantly, those talking points called the raid â€œa gutsy decisionâ€ by the President, adding that â€œWH involvement was critical.â€
â€œThe bottom line,â€ Bailey said, â€œis that, at the behest of the Obama White House, Leon Panetta knowingly allowed classified information to be given to left-leaning Hollywood filmmakers. And he is now launching an attack on a brave Navy SEAL simply for revealing where bin Laden was shot, while covering up for an Administration that has compromised national security for cheap political theater. It is time for him to go.â€
Special Operations Speaks (SOS) is a nationwide organization led by highly decorated Special Operations veterans. Among its stated goals is a commitment â€œto illuminate the failed operational security environment of the Administration and to provide the public with accurate information about these repeated releases of highly classified information.