Bin Laden film not politically motivated: writer

WASHINGTON, DC: A Hollywood studio this week released a trailer for a film dramatizing the hunt for Osama bin Laden, which the film’s screenwriter said was not meant to boost the campaign of President Barack Obama, who ordered the May 2011 commando raid in which bin Laden was killed.

Earlier this year, U.S. Representative Peter King, the Republican who chairs the House committee on Homeland Security, said the filmmakers had “set out to tell a blockbuster, election-year story about one of the most classified operations in American history.”

King expressed concern about the involvement of a “Democratic lobbying firm” in “brokering” access for the filmmakers to top officials.

Screenwriter Mark Boal said the film is a non-political account of the actions of the undercover operatives who hunted down bin Laden and eventually killed him. Obama, he said, is not even a character in the movie.

Sony Pictures released the trailer for the film, titled “Zero Dark Thirty.”

The trailer is potentially controversial because official state documents released this year to a conservative group showed that Boal and film director Kathryn Bigelow were given background briefings by White House, Pentagon and CIA officials about the bin Laden operation.

Both the CIA and the Pentagon said at the time that their interactions with the filmmakers, who won an Oscar for The Hurt Locker, were routine.

A political controversy erupted when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported last year that the White House was “counting on” the film to “counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual.”

Dowd reported that the film was scheduled to open on Oct.12, about three weeks before the November presidential election. After her column was published, however, media reports said that the release date had been postponed until December.

In an email to Reuters Wednesday, Boal confirmed that the film is scheduled for release in December. He said it was currently in postproduction.

He said there was no political undertone to either the film or the timing of its release.

“The film has no partisan agenda,” Boal said. “The suggestions otherwise are from people who are clueless about the film. This is about black ops operatives who carried out the secret hunt for [bin Laden]. It’s not about the president. There’s no actor running around playing Obama in our movie.”

The screenwriter’s assurances are unlikely to quiet Obama critics. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, the conservative group which requested and obtained records of the filmmakers’ dealings with administration officials, said he wanted more information.

“The trailer is sure to have a lot of fans in the Obama campaign,” he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 10, 2012, on page 16.




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