WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA’s internal watchdog has criticized the spy agency for introducing Hollywood representatives to undercover officers and allegedly being careless in talking to them about agency secrets.
In a 20-page report prepared in 2012 and stamped “secret,” the spy agency’s Inspector General said that CIA employees who had contact with Hollywood representatives had “not always complied” with agency regulations intended to stop leaks of classified information.
The report was made public on Wednesday by Judicial Watch, a conservative group which said it obtained the document under the Freedom of Information Act.
CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said the agency had “completely overhauled its procedures for interaction with the entertainment industry” since 2012. The agency set up new training procedures for officials who deal with Hollywood and strengthened protocols for guarding agency secrets and classified information, he said.
Questions about whether agency officers properly protected secrets and undercover spies’ identities are among the inspector general’s concerns.
On some occasions, the report said, undercover CIA spies, whose true identities are officially secret and protected by law from public disclosure, met for hours with entertainment industry representatives, though other industry representatives were only allowed to meet with spies whose identities are publicly acknowledged.
The report also complained that the agency’s public affairs office did not maintain a comprehensive list of entertainment projects that the agency was supporting as well as a list of projects that it declined to support.
The report also alleged the CIA was not been reimbursed for “costs incurred in supporting entertainment industry projects” and had even claimed legal authority to absorb some costs “without reimbursement.”
To address these issues, the Inspector General recommended that the CIA set up a much more rigorous system for keeping records on entertainment industry contacts.
The report also recommended that the agency issue guidance to its workforce about keeping secrets away from Hollywood contacts, and that it write new policies for determining if and when the CIA should charge entertainment producers fees to compensate the agency for its cooperation.
While its engagement with Hollywood goes back years, the agency’s involvement with the entertainment industry became particularly controversial in 2012 following its cooperation with the makers of “Zero Dark Thirty,” a film about the ultimately successful hunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The movie included scenes depicting the agency’s use of torture to interrogate suspects.
Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Cynthia Osterman