Written by Tom Fitton
JW Sues Obama Administration for Records Detailing Possible Leak of bin Laden Classified Information to Hollywood Director
So let me get this straight. The Obama administration is fighting Judicial Watch tooth-and-nail to avoid releasing photographs of the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, citing national security reasons. And at the same time, administration officials allegedly leaked information about the bin Laden raid to a Hollywood film director?
That’s what press reports seem to indicate. And we’re now trying to get to the bottom of this emerging scandal.
On January 13, 2012, JW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to obtain documents regarding meetings and communications between government agencies and Hollywood director Kathryn Bigelow. (If the name sounds familiar, it is because Bigelow is the Academy Award-winning director of the military film “The Hurt Locker.” She is also the ex-wife of Hollywood director James Cameron of “Avatar” fame.) At issue in JW’s lawsuit is the possibility that the Obama administration leaked classified information to Bigelow and Annapurna Pictures as source material for the making of Bigelow’s not-yet-released film, tentatively titled “Killing bin Laden.” Here’s what we’re after, pursuant to JW FOIA requests filed with the DOD and the CIA on August 9, 2011:
All records of communications between any officer, official, or employee of the DoD and Ms. Bigelow, as well as with Mr. Mark Boal, Ms. Megan Ellison, or employees of Annapurna Pictures.
(The same request was made of the CIA with regard to Bigelow, Boal, Ellison, and employees of Annapurna Pictures.)
The DOD admitted receiving the FOIA request on August 22, 2011, but advised Judicial Watch that “at this time, we are unable to make a release determination on your request within twenty (20) working days” of August 9, which would have been by September 6, 2011. The CIA acknowledged receiving the FOIA request on August 16, 2011, indicating that “the large number of FOIA requests CIA received has created unavoidable delays, making it unlikely that we can respond with the 20 working days the FOIA requires.”
Well, this stonewalling has dragged on for months and we still have no documents. We haven’t even been told by the Obama administration if documents would be produced – hence our lawsuit.
Bigelow’s film, in production since 2008, originally intended to document the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden. The top secret Navy SEAL team mission that led to the capture and killing of bin Laden is reportedly the source for the film’s new content and conclusion.
As reported by Reuter’s, “It has been alleged that Bigelow…in preparation for the script to their Annapurna Pictures movie about the killing of Osama Bin Laden – received classified information regarding his death.”
Now, why would the Obama administration do such a thing?
First off, this is an administration that has shown a proclivity to selectively releasing information that helps the “Obama brand” while withholding information that may be harmful or embarrassing. (See theselective release of classified documents disparaging the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”)
Second, this is also an administration that aggressively uses federal agencies to assist the Obama campaign. (See the recently dismissed lawsuit against Boeing in support of Big Labor and the flow ofObamacare waivers to unions.)
The conclusion seems obvious: The alleged leaking of this information was an effort to boost the Obama 2012 presidential election campaign.
Thank you to liberal New York Times columnist Maureen Dowdfor alerting us to this abuse:
The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of Bin Laden to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual. The Sony film by the Oscar-winning pair who made “The Hurt Locker” will no doubt reflect the president’s cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds. Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 – perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher.
The moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration.
It was clear that the White House had outsourced the job of manning up the president’s image to Hollywood when Boal got welcomed to the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon and showed up recently – to the surprise of some military officers – at a C.I.A. ceremony celebrating the hero Seals (sic).
In short, if press reports from the liberal media are to be believed, the Obama administration released classified national security information to help Hollywood make a two-hour Obama campaign commercial to be released just weeks before the 2012 elections.
As I say, JW is in hot pursuit of these “Killing bin Laden” records in order to get to the truth in the matter. And at the same time, we continue to fight in court for the release of the post-mortem photographs and video recordings of bin Laden. At this point, given the alleged Bigelow leaks, it’s hard to put any stock in the claim made by Obama administration officials that their stonewalling of the bin Laden death photos has anything to do with national security.
It has become obvious over the last three years that the Obama administration has no great love for free markets. Not only has the Obama administration doubled down on former President Bush’s bailout gamble, gobbling up large swaths of the private sector, but his recent unconstitutional “recess” appointment of anti-business zealot Richard Cordray is another clear sign of the president’s disdain of business.
And here’s another: Evidently, the Obama administration has been plotting a $20 billion hit on the mortgage lending industry behind closed doors. How do I know? Because the Obama administration has been “selectively leaking” details of this plan to friendlies in the press – again.
Now Judicial Watch is stepping in to get the full story.
On January 3, 2012, JW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to obtain documents pertaining to accusations of fraud against the nation’s five largest mortgage companies and the creation of “federal accounts” to settle probes into faulty mortgage practices.
As I say, the Obama administration has reportedly been engaged in secret settlement negotiations with mortgage companies that would result in at least $20 billion in payments from the nation’s major banks.
We know they have these requests. And we know they have records. But they’re not giving them up without a fight.
The DOJ notified Judicial Watch by letter that the agency received the FOIA request on May 27, 2011. Under the law, a response from the DOJ was due within 20 working days, or by June 24, 2011. On September 22, 2011, the DOJ reported to Judicial Watch that it had located nine documents totaling 346 pages responsive to the FOIA request, but had referred the documents to HUD for processing and direct response.
A similar FOIA request was filed with HUD, also on May 17, 2011. According to a letter from HUD, the request had been received on May 18, 2011, which means that the response was due by June 16, 2011. On September 13, 2011, HUD indicated in a letter to Judicial Watch that under instruction from the DOJ “the records responsive to your request are being withheld in full…”
So that means that the “most transparent administration in history” is hiding everything.
As Judicial Watch noted in its FOIA requests, in his “exclusive” May 16, 2011, article detailing the settlement negotiations with mortgage lenders, Huffington Post reporter Shahien Nasiripour referred specifically to the audits and the term sheet at issue in Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit. According to the article, four federal agents briefed Nasiripour on the “set of confidential audits,” while the confidential term sheet “was reviewed” by the Huffington Post.
In addition to conducting behind-the-scenes negotiations with the mortgage lending industry, the Obama administration is also reportedly pressuring state attorneys general to close down their investigations and sign off on the deal. Judicial Watch previously obtained documents calling into question the veracity of testimony by Elizabeth Warren, a then-Obama administration official, about the involvement of the new Consumer Production Financial Bureau in these negotiations.
All Americans deserve to know the full truth about the Obama administration’s effort to extort $20 billion from the nation’s banking industry. This appears to be yet another example of the federal “gangster government” – in this case, the selective leaking of information to harm targeted businesses while denying access under law to the full truth. This is an affront to transparency and the rule of law. It is this type of Obama administration gamesmanship that has resulted in a government transparency crisis.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has come under fire, including from Judicial Watch, for his controversial relationship with mortgage giant Freddie Mac in the years after the former House Speaker left Congress. The issue is especially sensitive in Florida, which has been described as “ground zero” of the housing crisis. Voters take to the polls in the “sunshine state” next Tuesday in the Republican primary. (Judicial Watch does not endorse or oppose candidates for office.)
Gingrich initially said in debates and press interviews that Freddie Mac paid his company as much as $25,000 per month for his services as a “historian.” He has since switched that term out for the more standard “consultant.” But the documents released by the Gingrich campaign suggest he may have been more than a “consultant.”
New details from Newt Gingrich’s contracts worth $1.6 million with Freddie Mac show that the Republican hopeful wasn’t just a boardroom consultant, but served as a high-profile booster for the beleaguered organization. He even gave a rallying speech to dozens of the group’s political action committee [PAC] donors in the spring of 2007.
Shortly after the “rah, rah” speech, as one source described it, Gingrich gave an interview for the Freddie Mac website, where he supported the group’s model at length. The interview is no longer on Freddie’s site.
Gingrich said in the interview that Freddie has “made an important contribution to home ownership and the housing finance system,” even though many Republicans revile it.
And so these records seem to suggest that Gingrich, who described the Freddie Mac business model “insane” on the campaign trail, had a different tale to tell when Freddie Mac was filling his corporate bank account.
Regarding Freddie’s political contributions, Politico reports, “Freddie Mac’s PAC contributed $327,000 to federal candidates in the 2006 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Nearly 130 employees and spouses of employees contributed $330,000 over that same time period.” Overall, according to Opensecrets.org, Fannie and Freddie contributed $4.8 million dollars to candidates over a 20-year period (1989-2008). The top three recipients: Former Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), President Barack Obama during his service in the U.S. Senate, and Senator John Kerry (D-MA).
Importantly, Gingrich’s “consulting” arrangement was in force right up until the Federal Housing Finance Agency seized control of the beleaguered enterprise (and its sister organization Fannie Mae) three years ago.
Now Gingrich has sustained fire for artfully dodging questions about his relationship with Freddie Mac and for taking so long to release records related to this relationship. The public and the press can have the debate as to what this relationship means politically. But at least he has turned on the spigot and the documents are starting to flow into the public domain.
We can’t say the same about the Obama administration.
JW has been engaged in a battle with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) over documents related to the political contributions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We want these records for precisely the same reason the media is so feverishly interested in Newt Gingrich’s Freddie Mac records.
We want to know everything there is to know about the well-lubricated political relationships that enabled Fannie and Freddie to conduct their questionable activities with virtually no oversight, ultimately leading to the demise of the housing market and the ensuing financial crisis. (We already uncovered documents proving members of Congress ignored corruption inside the two Government Sponsored Enterprises for years.)
The Obama administration, meanwhile, says these records are none of the public’s business. They made the shocking argument in court that Fannie and Freddie, which are now wholly owned by the federal government, are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). JW countered that FHFA has custody over these records and they should be released: “There is nothing contingent, hypothetical, indefinite, or limiting about this plain statutory language vesting the FHFA with both legal custody and lawful control over the records.”
A federal district court agreed in large part with JW’s legal argument, but nonetheless concluded the FHFA did not control the records because the records in question weren’t being “used”! We filed an unsuccessful appeal, so the court-endorsed government cover-up continues for now. These very records would have included documents about Gingrich’s “rah rah” speech to the Freddie Mac PAC!
We’ve asked the FHFA again for documents, this time about Newt Gingrich, and we’re still getting stonewalled. It is unbelievable – though so typically “Washington” – that Obama protects his campaign opponent Gingrich through unprecedented assertions of government secrecy. I bet you we will get the “secret” Osama bin Laden photos before Obama disgorges anything on the Freddie/Fannie racket that has cost taxpayers over $150 billion and counting.
Here’s the takeaway on the Gingrich/Freddie relationship and any other politician tied to either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac: The public deserves to know the details of these relationships. The Obama administration has records that can clear the air. But it refuses to release them.
Could it have something to do with the fact that President Obama, in only three years in the U.S. Senate, shot up the list of Fannie/Freddie beneficiaries all the way, relatively speaking, to number one?
(By the way, not one of the presidential candidates has bothered to answer any of our questions about government secrecy and other important policy matters. The AP has a good expose on the bipartisan hypocrisy here.)
SOURCE: Judicial Watch, and sign up for their updates
Until next week