Pot calling kettle black: US officials ‘leak’ more than Manning?

Leaking classified data to Wikileaks saw Private Bradley Manning charged with 22 counts including capital offence. Following the spirit of the law, what should be done to Obama administration officials who expose military secrets to Hollywood?

­24-year-old former intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is charged with 22 crimes, including communicating national defense information to an unauthorized source and aiding the enemy, which is a capital offence under American law. The next hearing in his case is due to start in Fort Meade on Wednesday.

The Obama administration has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, prosecuting more of them under espionage laws than all previous administrations combined.

But it seems one man’s snitch is another man’s spin doctor, as Washington's interpretation of the freedom of speech depends on who you actually are.

“Problem with the current situation with the White House is that they leaked classified information several times when it suited them to do so,” explained retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Antony Shafer. “One with the book Obama's Wars, done by Bob Woodward, where they laid out two chapters with information about current operations. Also, with the Kathryn Bigelow project regarding the SEAL Team 6 take-down of Bin Laden last year at this time.”

The film in question, which is titled Zero Dark Thirty, covers last year’s raid by US commandos on the Pakistani compound where Osama bin Laden was hiding.

The conservative watchdog Judicial Watch has obtained records revealing that Hollywood film-makers were given access to previously undisclosed information about the operation.

Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were even granted a tour around “the Vault”, a CIA building where tactical planning for the raid took place.

The film is out in December, but was initially due to be released just weeks before November’s presidential election.

That fact saw some flak fly the administration’s way, while the entire project has raised concerns over the way intelligence is being used.

“It is best that this kind of information, particularly that is surrounding this movie, remains classified, it absolutely has to. It is very unfortunate that it’s coming out to be used for political purposes, for the Congressional election,” former Pentagon officer Michael Maloof told RT.

However, there’s nothing unusual about the Defense Department collaborating with the makers of Hollywood blockbusters.

It’s a partnership that dates back to the middle of the 20th century and it has proved effective. The Pentagon has what Hollywood filmmakers want – access to billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment to use in movies. And Hollywood has what the Pentagon wants – the influence to sugar-coat its actions and attract potential recruits.

In recent months, two other movies about the Navy Seals, Lone Survivor and Act of Valor, have received official assistance.

Veteran Hollywood reporter David Robb says the Pentagon has, for a long time, had access to the scripts of Hollywood film-makers to show the military in a better light.

“When the American people are seeing hundreds of films and TV shows that have been sanitized by the military, to make the military seem more heroic than it really is, and never wrong and always good, that creates a false image in people's minds,” he said.