As if Zero Dark Thirty needed more controversy, ABC News is now reporting that Under Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers is under investigation for leaking sensitive information to the filmmakers. "Specifically, Vickers is said to have disclosed to the filmmakers the identity of a member of SEAL Team Six -- though not a member of the team that conducted the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound," says ABC's Jake Tapper. This is potentially a big deal for said SEAL Team Six member, who could be targeted by terrorists, but it's also a bit of a boondoggle for the Pentagon, where state secrets definitely aren't supposed to be exposed for the good of the entertainment industry.
Along those lines, the Pentagon is downplaying the investigation. One of ABC's sources said that those at the Defense Department "really don't think this will amount to anything," while another said that it was "appropriate for department officials to work with the entertainment industry to try to inform how stories are told -- especially those associated with one of the greatest intelligence and military successes of a generation." However, the very idea that Pentagon officials were more closely involved in making the film than they should have been will surely throw up a lot of red flags with the American public. It could also add to the collective outrage over the some of the film's scenes, which critics say glorify torture and even inaccurately portray how the events really played out.
Those are sort of the best case scenarios. The worst thing that could happen would obviously be that the exposed SEAL Team Six member and his family could be hunted down. This is exactly what SEAL Team Six members are afraid of, according to a Fox News report from September. Take it from a mother of Aaron Vaughn, a SEAL Team Six member who was killed last year in Afghanistan and later publicly identified. "They spend their entire lives in this code of secrecy and privacy, and … they do not want attention," said Karen Vaughn. Of the government identifying SEAL Team Six soldiers, Aaron's father Billy said simply, "We elect them, we look to them to take care of the best interests of the American citizen, and especially the warrior. And I believe what the administration did then, I believe it was criminal."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.