Obama kills Osama | Globe Editorial

Box office meets ballot box

August 15, 2011

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A MOVIE about the decade-long quest to kill Osama bin Laden will surely be compelling; that’s why at least 10 projects on the subject are advancing. But it was New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s suggestion that the Academy Award-winning filmmakers behind “The Hurt Locker’’ were getting special access to intelligence and military personnel for their movie that raised the hackles of House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, a New York Republican. The scheduled date of the movie’s release - a few weeks before the 2012 presidential election - raised them even more. Is the Obama Administration trying to tip the scales a bit before the next election? Probably not, but the administration should ask Sony to change the release date anyway.

Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal had already been working on an action thriller called “Kill Bin Laden’’ when bin Laden was, in fact, killed. They worked with the Defense Department and CIA for background information to develop a new script. The Pentagon confirmed it is providing “assistance with script research, which is something we commonly do for established filmmakers.’’ The CIA did the same, commenting that its “goal is an accurate portrayal of the men and women of the CIA, their vital mission, and the commitment to public service that defines them.’’ Both agencies have worked with the film industry since World War II, including with Bigelow and Boal for “The Hurt Locker,’’ which was launched during the Bush Administration.

The trouble with the release date for the bin Laden film, Oct. 12, 2012, is that it will turn the project into political fodder. President Obama, who will be on the ballot three weeks later, killed the archvillain who eluded Bush for eight years. Allowing any kind of political dispute to cloud the story is simply unfair to the men and women who spent nearly a decade in pursuit of the terrorist mastermind. Sony should consider this basic fact as it decides whether to change the release date.