The Senate Intelligence Committee is demanding answers on the relationship between spy agencies and the entertainment industry.
According to Vice News journalist Jason Leopold, an amendment to last month’s annual intelligence-spending bill requires the Director of National Intelligence to explain each year to congressional oversight committees the interactions between 16 different intelligence agencies and Hollywood.
The amendment, put in place by Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, comes after several news reports which helped expose the CIA’s involvement with “22 entertainment-related projects between 2006 and 2011.”
“They included major motion pictures like Zero Dark Thirty and Argo; reality television series such as Top Chef; the cable drama series, Covert Affairs; and books including The Devil’s Light by Richard North Patterson,” Leopold writes. “In the case of Zero Dark Thirty, writer and producer Mark Boal and Katherine Bigelow gave CIA officers involved in the operation that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden gifts including dinners, fake pearl earrings, a bottle of tequila, and tickets to a Prada fashion show.”
Despite CIA Director of Public Affairs Dean Boyd stating earlier this year that the agency’s priority was the “protection of classified material and national security equities” when dealing with entertainers, Vice News asserts the agency did just the opposite when working on Zero Dark Thirty.
“In some instances CIA officials disclosed classified information to producers and writers,” Leopold adds. “An investigation by the CIA’s inspector general (IG) into the agency’s dealings with Bigelow and Boal identified several potential criminal violations of federal law, such as the bribery of public officials and witnesses, by the filmmakers.”
As reported by International Business Times in 2013, the CIA even went as far as to pressure Bigelow to “block torture scenes that made the agency ‘look bad.'”
“The original opening scene featured agent Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, participating in the torture of a detainee,” IBTimes’ Gianluca Mezzofiore wrote. “It was changed so that in the movie Maya just watches a video of the waterboarding of the prisoner who is subsequently incarcerated in a tiny box.”
A Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch also revealed CIA Director Leon E. Panetta as the source who gave up secret information to the film’s screenwriters.
Although the bill still needs to be voted on and approved by the entire Senate, passage would demand the Director of National Intelligence craft an annual report that specifies “a description of the nature, duration, costs, and results of each engagement, as well as a certification that each engagement did not result in a disclosure of classified information and whether any information was declassified for the disclosure.”