Jun 5, 2013 No Comments ›› Jake Hammer
Excerpted from POLITICO
Former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed the name of the Navy SEAL unit that carried out the Osama bin Laden raid and named the unit’s ground commander at a 2011 ceremony attended by “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmaker Mark Boal, according to a draft Pentagon inspector general’s report obtained by a watchdog group.
Panetta also disclosed classified information designated as “top secret” and “secret” during his presentation at the awards ceremony, says the draft IG report published Wednesday by the Project on Government Oversight.
The report does not make clear whether Panetta was aware that Boal was present at the ceremony, held under a tent at the CIA complex on June 24, 2011. “Approximately 1,300” people from the military and the intelligence community were on hand for the event, according to a CIA press release issued the following week.
The disclosure of the IG report could undermine the Obama administration’s claims that senior officials have not leaked classified information. Last spring, Republicans publicly attacked President Barack Obama and his top aides, alleging that the administration leaked national security secrets to burnish Obama’s standing for his reelection bid.
Word that Panetta, a key member of Obama’s national security team, might have been responsible for improper disclosures without encountering any known repercussions comes as the administration faces questions over the fairness of the aggressive anti-leak investigations and prosecutions being mounted by the Justice Department.
The release of the findings in the draft report may also raise questions about why the document has been under wraps for so long, and which of its conclusions were known to White House officials prior to last November’s election.
Asked Wednesday about the report, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he was not familiar with it and would have to get back to reporters. No further response was forthcoming by late Wednesday afternoon.
Panetta did not respond to messages left Wednesday at his non-profit public policy institute in Monterey, Calif. He was sworn in as defense secretary about a week after the 2011 ceremony. He left the Pentagon post in February of this year and returned to California.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who requested the inspector general’s review, said he was disturbed by the report’s findings and by the delays in its official release.
“It does raise issues about a lack of security at the CIA and at DoD,” King told POLITICO on Wednesday. “The most important issue right now is why this report was held back for so long. Inspectors general are supposed to be independent. It’s the integrity of the process. … It’s important to know where that pressure [to withhold it] was coming from.”
The congressman said he also wants an apology from Carney for statements he made in August 2011, when the press secretary called King’s claims about security breaches related to the film “ridiculous” and “simply false.”
“I would hope as we face a continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie,” Carney said then.
After reviewing the leaked draft, King said he was writing to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the inspector general’s office to demand the immediate official release of the report.
King said he still had no official notification about the report but heard that it had been completed some time ago. “I’ve been hearing at least since January that this report was final and that it could affect some high-ranking people, some high-ranking officials,” he said.