Hollywood, CA – The Central Intelligence Agency cited national security concerns as the reason for a meeting with Hollywood filmmaker Michael Bay earlier this year.
The upcoming 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, to be released in January by Paramount Pictures, is cited as the subject of the meeting.
The film is a dramatization of the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya in 2012, centering around the six security team members who defended the compound and attached CIA annex.
The attack has since been the subject of numerous congressional investigations resulting from the death of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
“I show both sides of the story,” said Bay at a French film festival. “I met with the CIA on this movie and I show the whole situation.”
CIA spokespeople acknowledged a meeting with Bay, and they claimed the purpose of the meeting was not to influence the production of the film.
Agency interaction with Hollywood is not a new phenomena. In 1996, the CIA opened an Entertainment Liaison Office for the specific purpose of advising high-profile projects within the entertainment industry. One such film, Zero Dark Thirty, a film about the hunt for and subsequent killing of Osama Bin Laden, was heavily influenced by the CIA and its press office.
The consultation with Michael Bay on 13 Hours is said to be less in the interest of doing service to the agency’s image, and more an effort to verify the movie would not compromise their officers abroad or national security in a larger sense.
“When Michael Bay reached out to CIA regarding his 13 Hours film, we agreed to meet him for the purpose of protecting against the potential release of classified information,” CIA spokesperson Kali Caldwell told The Daily Beast. “As with other Hollywood projects and in line with agency regulations, CIA does not endorse this film or any other film.”
While the film is an adaptation of the Mitchell Zuckoff book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, intelligence officials were concerned about the portrayal of certain aspect of the book for film. The dissemination of protocol and procedures that the organization uses to protect its assets appeared to be the main concern.
The intelligence community at large regularly reviews books and articles written by past and current employees to verify such details are not divulged, however the same control is not directly available when it comes to Hollywood movies.
Knowledge of specific concerns with the film are unknown and any potentially “classified” information has been in the public sphere for over a year now following the release of the Zuckoff book.
The CIA has publicly disputed a specific sequence of events related to a “stand down” order described to have been handed down by the CIA base chief in the book as “simply inaccurate.” The book was co-written by security contracts present at the compound during the attack.