National Security Archive: The Zero Dark Thirty File

17 January 2013 — National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 410

Lifting The Government’s Shroud Over the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden

Edited by Nate Jones and Lauren Harper with Documents from Jeffery Richelson and Barbara Elias

For more information contact:
Nate Jones, Freedom of Information Coordinator
202/994-7045 nsarchiv@gwu.edu

Washington, DC, January 17, 2013 — The poster for the blockbuster movie Zero Dark Thirty features black lines of redaction over the title, which unintentionally illustrate the most accurate take-away from the film – that most of the official record of the hunt for Osama bin Laden is still shrouded in secrecy, according to the National Security Archive’s ZD30 briefing book, posted today at www.nsarchive.org. The U.S. government’s recalcitrance over releasing information directly to the public about the twenty-first century’s most important intelligence search and military raid, and its decision instead to grant the film’s producers exclusive and unprecedented access to classified information about the operation, means that for the time being — for bad or good — Hollywood has become the public’s “account of record” for Operation Neptune Spear.

As often happens when the government declines on secrecy grounds to provide an authoritative account of a controversial event, leaked, unauthorized and untrustworthy versions rush to fill the void. In this extraordinary case, a Hollywood film, with apparent White House, CIA, and Pentagon blessing and despite its historical accuracies, has now become the closest thing to the official story behind Operation Neptune Spear.

Zero Dark Thirty ‘s screenwriter, Mark Boal, has claimed that the film is “a movie not a documentary” and should not be treated as history. But the U.S. government’s widely reported support and its official silence about the raid have made Zero Dark Thirty (the military designation for 12:30 AM) more than a mere thriller. Today, in an effort to balance the record, to the extent currently possible, the National Security Archive has collected, posted, and analyzed in one Electronic Briefing Book all of the available official documents on the mission to kill the notorious al-Qaeda leader.

Check out today’s posting at the National Security Archive website – http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB410/

Find us on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/NSArchive

Unredacted, the Archive blog – http://nsarchive.wordpress.com/

________________________________________________________
THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.