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Special Ops help for Bin Laden film denied

The controversial film "Zero Dark Thirty" tells of the raid on bin Laden's compound in 2011.

The controversial film "Zero Dark Thirty" tells of the raid on bin Laden's compound in 2011.

WASHINGTON - The US admiral who oversaw the operation to kill Osama bin Laden denied on Thursday that he or his staff helped advise Hollywood film makers shooting a movie about last year's secret raid to kill the al-Qaeda leader.

A conservative legal group this week made public documents which it said showed how the Obama administration arranged special access to top officials for film makers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, the director and screenwriter of "The Hurt Locker," a 2008 film about the Iraq war that won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Judicial Watch said the documents indicated that the Pentagon granted Bigelow and Boal access to a "planner, Operator and Commander of SEAL Team Six," the Navy commando unit that carried out the raid during which bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he apparently had lived for years.

But Admiral William McRaven, who commanded the mission and was later promoted to head the US military's Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), denied anyone from USSOCOM dealt with the filmmakers in any way.

"I ... had no interaction, neither has anyone at USSOCOM had any interaction, with folks that are making this movie," McRaven told reporters, speaking a press conference in Tampa, Florida. "We have not provided any planners."

The most revealing document obtained by Judicial Watch is a 16-page transcript of a July 15, 2011 meeting between the two filmmakers and Michael Vickers, Undersecretary of Defence for Intelligence and one of the key administration officials involved in the bin Laden operation.

In the transcript, Vickers says that the Pentagon was willing to "make a guy available" to them who "was involved from the beginning as a planner; a SEAL Team Six Operator and Commander."

Upon hearing this, screenwriter Mark Boal exclaimed: "That's dynamite." Director Kathryn Bigelow said: "That's incredible," according to the transcript.

A Defence Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged McRaven's command offered to make available a "planner" who was not a current member of SEAL Team Six as a possible point of contact for additional information, if instructed by the Pentagon to do so.

But the official said the Defence Department did not grant the filmmakers access to that individual "nor to our knowledge was it pursued by the filmmakers."

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