The White House has denied putting politics before national security after it was revealed to have offered the makers of a high-profile Hollywood film access to the Navy Seal team which killed Osama bin Laden.
Documents released under freedom of information laws show that Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow, who wrote and directed the Oscar-winning movie The Hurt Locker, were offered extensive help in researching a forthcoming dramatisation of the al-Qa'ida leader's death.
The duo were taken to a classified compound, allowed to tour CIA "vaults", and shown a mock-up of Bin Laden's compound where the raid was rehearsed. Then they were offered an off-the-record interview with a "commander" of the supposedly top-secret Seal team.
It remains unclear whether that interview took place, but Republicans accused the authorities of offering special favours in return for positive PR. Bigelow and Boal's film, which has the working title Zero Dark Thirty, is scheduled for release shortly after November's presidential election.
Peter King, a Republican member of the Homeland Security Committee, said the decision to help them represents "unprecedented and potentially dangerous collaboration" which raises "very serious questions" about the Obama administration's treatment of classified information.
Mr King was particularly perturbed by an email that Michael Vickers, the Under-Secretary of Defence for Intelligence, sent Bigelow and Boal, offering a sit down with a member of the supposedly-secret Seal team "who was involved from the beginning". "He shouldn't be talking out of school [but] he knows what he can and can't say," Mr Vickers admitted. "That's dynamite," Boal replied. "That's incredible," said Bigelow.
Mr Vickers added: "You're going to get a little bit of operational stuff, but more really policy – like how did we make the decision, the risks, that kind of stuff."