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Republicans Accuse White House of Planning October Surprise

Republicans Accuse White House and Hollywood of Planning an October Surprise. What Nerve!

Bill Berkowitz
August 18, 2011

Rep. Peter King, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, thinking that Hollywood's elite will try and bail Obama out with an October 2012 release of a film about the assassination of Osama bin Laden, calls for an investigation.

Here's a question for you. Is it possible to stage an October Surprise if what's being planned isn't a secret?

One might think that Republican Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and the fellow who has been conducting congressional hearings about the threat of Islamic terrorism, might be pleased to see a movie about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, one of history's all-time Islamic terrorists. After all, it might prove to be an object lesson to current and/or future terrorists.

Instead of being supportive, however, King thinks that such a movie - to be released in mid-October 2012 - is a ploy to bolster the electoral possibilities of Barack Obama; a cinematic October Surprise if you will.

The time-honored phrase, October Surprise, recently popped back into the news for the first time in oh ... say, two years (since the last presidential election).

There are October Surprises and then ... there are October Surprises. Historians may argue over what was the first "October Surprise" - some say that in 1968, Nixon's man (Henry Kissinger) who was hanging around the Paris peace talks between the North Vietnamese and the Johnson administration, somehow convinced the North Vietnamese that they would get a better deal from a Nixon administration, so they walked. In the election, Nixon barely edged out Hubert Humphrey.

Four years later, just prior to Election Day in 1972, President Nixon's now National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, appeared at a press conference held at the White House and announced, "We believe that peace is at hand." Kissinger's statement was surprising mostly because Nixon had promised to end the war during his presidential run four years earlier, and had not succeeded. Nevertheless, he won an overwhelming victory over South Dakota Senator George McGovern.

But the mother of all October Surprises took place during the 1980 election between President Jimmy Carter and the Republican challenger, Ronald Reagan. The hub of this October Surprise revolves around whether Team Reagan was engaged in secret negotiations with Iran to free the American hostages -- taken a year earlier - after the election. (For the full story on everything October Surpriseish, see's October Surprise archive.)

Twenty-first century OS - not so surprising

Last week, however, King called for a CIA and Pentagon investigation "wanting them to review the administration's cooperation with director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, both Academy Award winners for the 2009 film 'The Hurt Locker,'" the Associated Press recently reported.

It appears that King is worried that the Obama administration might compromise the nation's security by giving away "sensitive details about the Navy SEAL mission to the Oscar-winning moviemakers behind the project."

In an interview, King said he was motivated to speak out after he heard from people in the CIA who told him that, "they were opposed to this." "Most SEALs want to stay in the background," he said, and not "tip off the enemy of what they do and don't do."

King pointed out that he wasn't questioning the project "to take credit away from the president" AP reported. "I, as much as anyone after the killing of bin Laden, gave full credit to the president," he said. "I knew this was an extremely tough decision. Top people in the administration were opposed to it. It was courageous, heroic and showed real leadership."

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters "When people, including you in this room, are working on articles, books, documentaries or movies that involve the president, ask to speak to administration officials, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure that facts are correct. That is hardly a novel approach to the media.

"We do not discuss classified information," Carney added. "And I would hope that as we face the continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie."

According to filmmakers Bigelow and Boal, the film will be nonpartisan. "Our upcoming film project about the decade-long pursuit of bin Laden has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, as well as the cooperative strategies and implementation by the Department of Defense and the CIA," they said in a statement.

"Indeed, the dangerous work of finding the world's most wanted man was carried out by individuals in the military and intelligence communities who put their lives at risk for the greater good without regard for political affiliation. This was an American triumph, both heroic and nonpartisan, and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise."

Getting in on the action, "Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., introduced a bill on Friday [August 12] that would prohibit the federal government from giving information about the raid that killed bin Laden to outside groups and require any collaboration not be funded by taxpayer dollars," CBS News reported.

"It is unconscionable that tax payer dollars are being used to aid the Hollywood film industry in fact checking and script research," Jenkins said in a statement. "I plan to introduce the Stop Subsidizing Hollywood Act, which will stop the Administration from sharing information about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden with Hollywood moviemakers or anyone else."

Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood website has already issued a call for Bigelow and Boal "to formally ask Sony Pictures to release the bin Laden film in late December - long after the 2012 election season is over, long after the film itself and the publicity surrounding it can have any kind of impact."

Kurt Schlichter, also writing at Breitbart's Big Hollywood website ("Mark Boal: Hollywood's Go-To Hack for All Things Pseudo-Military") went quite a bit further, calling screenwriter Boal, "Hollywood's go-to guy for sending the leftist message du jour about our troops."

Schlichter added: "When President Bush was in office and the party line was that fighting terrorists was a bad thing, Boal was there with In the Valley of Elah (2007). That one painted our soldiers as hideous psychopaths driven crazy by the war, so nuts and evil they murdered one of their own because of, well, Bush or something."

According to Schlichter, there is no doubt that Boal will produce "what the liberal establishment wants" since "he's never let them down before."

"With an October 12, 2012, release date," Schlichter wrote, "this is a transparent attempt to distract attention from the utter disaster the Administration's ultra-liberals policies have inflicted upon the economy. Boal, along with director Bigelow and the Obama-backing Sony studio, are eager to help. Dollars to doughnuts, the focus of this tribute won't be the men and women who risked their lives but the candidate who made the "gutsy call" that anyone else would have made too.

"But then, Boal has made a career of meeting liberal expectations within his little niche as the Hollywood hipster who always writes just what his bosses want to hear about the military."

Before the film is even close to being in the can, you can expect more attacks on both Boal and Bigelow. You know the drill: From Big Hollywood to Drudge, from Drudge to Fox from Fox to blogs, tweets and Facebook. If they can withstand those attacks, that will be its own newsworthy October surprise.

Interestingly, one comment posted at Big Hollywood kind of lent a little perspective to the controversy: "I don't see why the Bigs is spilling so much ink on the subject. Only true believers watch nakedly political movies. Farenheit 9/11 is far and away the most successful such film in recent history, but it failed in its stated aim to make Bush a one-term president."

It is possible that Breitbart/Big Hollywood's campaign, combined with King's rants and threatened investigation will cower Hollywood, persuading it to postpone the release date of the film. That outcome would not be an October (or any month for that matter) Surprise.


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