The Slatest

Leon Panetta May Have Been the One Who Spilled CIA Secrets to Hollywood Filmmakers

Leon Panetta spilled CIA secrets at a agency awards party, according to a draft report from the DOD’s IG office.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/AFP/Getty Images

While speaking at a June 2011 CIA awards ceremony attended by Zero Dark Thirty filmmaker Mark Boal, then-CIA director Leon Panetta revealed the name of the ground commander who was in charge of the Osama Bin Laden raid, along with other “top secret” information, according to a draft report written by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

“During this awards ceremony, Director Panetta specifically recognized the unit that conducted the raid and identified the ground commander by name,” according to the draft, which was leaked to the the Project on Government Oversight. “According to the DOD Office of Security Review, the individual’s name is protected from public release’ under federal law.”


It remains unclear whether Panetta knew that the Hollywood filmmaker was at the event, which was held to honor the Navy SEAL team that carried out the raid, and which the CIA previously said was attended by about 1,300 people. While that may give Panetta in specific—and the administration in general—some cover, the disclosure is sure to provide ammunition for a variety of the president’s critics. At best, assuming the report is accurate, Panetta named names and disclosed top-secret information by accident, a rather embarrassing mix-up for the nation’s spy agency.


The report itself was first requested by House Republicans nearly two years ago but remains, officially at least, incomplete. According to POGO’s sources, there was a push to make the findings public roughly a year ago, and last fall the IG’s office began taking steps “toward releasing some version of the report, including putting it through a Pentagon vetting process and preparing talking points to explain the contents.” Yet, for unknown reasons, the report remains under wraps roughly half a year later. An IG spokeswoman told the Hill Wednesday that there’s no “projected date of completion” for the report and that staff are “working diligently to complete the project as quickly as possible.”

When House Republicans first asked for the IG to investigate the matter, they were in the middle of criticizing Obama and his team for allegedly leaking classified information in order to boost the president’s image on national security and defense. The GOP will likely renew that line of attack once they have the report in hand, but its disclosure also plays into a second story line, namely the administration’s unprecedented crackdown on government leaks.

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