US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta. Photo: Reuters
WASHINGTON: A Pentagon investigation has found ex-CIA director Leon Panetta spilled some secret details to a Hollywood screenwriter behind the film Zero Dark Thirty, a watchdog group says.
The findings of the Pentagon's inspector general are contained in a draft report that has not been publicly released but was obtained by the independent watchdog group, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).
The probe throws a potentially embarrassing light on President Barack Obama's administration, suggesting the White House was keen to help filmmakers tell a flattering story even as it aggressively investigated government officials and journalists over possible leaks of sensitive information.
The Pentagon inspector general's report appears to have been completed months ago but the release has been repeatedly delayed, raising concerns the timing has been subject to political considerations, POGO said, quoting an unnamed official inside the inspector general's office.
The inspector general found that Mr Panetta, then CIA director, had disclosed the "top secret" information two years ago at a ceremony at the spy agency's headquarters honouring those who took part in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, according to the draft report posted online by POGO.
The event was attended by a "Hollywood executive" and screenwriter Mark Boal, who was working on the movie Zero Dark Thirty, which recounts the Bin Laden manhunt, it said.
"During this awards ceremony, Director Panetta specifically recognised the unit that conducted the raid and identified the ground commander by name," the draft inspector general report said.
"According to the DoD (Department of Defence) Office of Security Review, the individual's name is protected from public release - under federal law."
Mr Panetta worked as CIA director from 2009 to mid-2011 and then as defence secretary until stepping down in February this year.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the POGO article.