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Bin Laden movie consult has White House under fire

Bin Laden movie meeting causes stir: Washington helping Hollywood produce realistic movies isn't new. But talking to filmmakers about the Osama bin Laden raid discomfits some Americans, including Rep. Peter King (R) of New York.

By Staff writer / August 11, 2011

Bin Laden movie: Screenwriter Mark Boal (l.), director Kathryn Bigelow, and producer Greg Shapiro pose with their Oscars for 'The Hurt Locker' on March 7, 2010, in Los Angeles. Boal and Bigelow are collaborating on a film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, set for release in 2012.

Matt Sayles/AP/File

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The White House seemed genuinely taken aback this week at concerns from Rep. Peter King (R) of New York, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, that it may somehow have compromised national security by having a chat with Hollywood.

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At issue are reports that it shared details of the May 1 Osama bin Laden raid with two award-winning producers planning a "nonpartisan" reconstruction of America's effort to chase down "Geronimo."

The White House called the insinuations that it breached national security "ludicrous," saying the information given to director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal amounted to the kind of details it shares daily from the White House Press Room podium.

Nevertheless, Congressman King has called for an investigation, which has sparked speculation among conservatives that the embattled White House is colluding with Hollywood for a propaganda coup that will launch in theaters nationwide a month before the 2012 election.

“It shouldn’t have been out there that SEAL Team Six did this, and there have been so many details out there” in press accounts, King told Politico. “And now we find out they are cooperating with a movie – what are we doing?”

King's demands to know more about the White House briefing with Hollywood take straight aim at the careful balance between realism, transparency, secrecy, and propaganda that hounds every White House at war, especially when US soldiers are still dying overseas.

The Hollywood-Washington nexus is, of course, nothing new. There's even an entire office at the Pentagon tasked with the sole purpose of helping filmmakers to create more realistic movies. What's more, Ms. Bigelow and Mr. Boal – who also collaborated on "The Hurt Locker," which took best film at the 2010 Oscars – pushed back at the idea that their project is propaganda.

The filmmakers said the bin Laden movie will span the Clinton, Bush, and Obama presidencies, and will describe the killing of Mr. bin Laden as "an American triumph, both heroic and nonpartisan," said Boal in a statement.

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