The Intelligence Community is going to have to justify its relationship with Hollywood.
Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, included an amendment in the annual intelligence-spending bill passed late last month that calls for the Director of National Intelligence to submit an annual report to congressional oversight committees detailing how the CIA and 15 other intelligence agencies interact with the entertainment industry.
The measure, which defines the entertainment industry broadly, follows a series of reports published by VICE News over the past year detailing the agency’s role in the production of 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. 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. The filmmakers, in turn, got access.
In some instances CIA officials disclosed classified information to producers and writers. 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. (The Senate Intelligence Committee receives classified versions of the CIA’s IG reports at the time they are finalized. It appears that the catalyst behind the amendment is news stories detailing the CIA’s relationship with Hollywood.)