Peter King opposes bin Laden film screening
The screenwriter for the film "SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden," which airs Sunday on the National Geographic Channel, is a Roosevelt native who said he sought to create a fact-based account of the 2011 operation.
But Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the film, bought by movie producer and President Barack Obama supporter Harvey Weinstein, amounts to a "campaign video" for the president that shouldn't run two days before the election.
The screenwriter, Kendall Lampkin Jr., says the film is not politically motivated.
The 90-minute film, which airs at 8 p.m., portrays the hunt by intelligence agents and military operatives for bin Laden, killed by SEALs in Pakistan last year. It also focuses on Obama's role overseeing the mission.
Weinstein purchased the film for $2.5 million and sold its American rights to the television channel.
Lampkin said he and another producer had the idea for the movie "long before there was an airdate. Neither one of us are political people. Our goal was to build an action thriller around the war on terror's most crucial event."
But King said: "This is bad timing . . . bad form, and he [Weinstein] is abusing his privilege as a movie mogul . . . turning what should be an artistic production into a campaign video."
Weinstein said Friday in a statement, "With all due respect to the congressman, to claim I am abusing my power by releasing this film is irresponsible.
"This film is historical, not political and was vetted by a Navy SEAL who is a Republican; a high-level operative from the CIA who is a Republican and a bin Laden historian who is not an American," Weinstein said. "I went out of my way to make sure this film was bipartisan."
Christopher Albert, spokesman for the National Geographic Channel, called the film "a celebration of American heroes who have fought and continue to fight the war against terrorism, and we are confident once people actually see the film, they will agree."
Lampkin, 31, is the son of former Hempstead Deputy Town Clerk Kendall Lampkin, who also served in the administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The younger Lampkin studied film at Hofstra University and moved to Los Angeles in early 2010. He got a job as an intern at Voltage Pictures, an international sales, finance and production company, and later was chosen as writer for "SEAL Team Six."
"Being a native New Yorker, I felt a personal connection. I remember where I was when the towers fell and . . . where I was when the announcement came down about bin Laden's death. Two weeks later when I was offered this job, it almost felt like fate," he said.
The "SEAL Team Six" cast includes Cam Gigandet, Anson Mount, Freddy Rodriguez and Kathleen Robertson.
King also has raised concerns about the forthcoming film "Zero Dark Thirty," by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, who had extensive access to government information about the bin Laden mission. Judicial Watch, a conservative foundation in Washington, D.C., this year obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act detailing information that government officials shared with the filmmakers.
King said the documents told a "damning story of extremely close, unprecedented, and potentially dangerous collaboration" with filmmakers. The Obama administration has denied leaking classified material to the filmmakers.
Bigelow's film is set for U.S. release Dec. 12.