WASHINGTON — Pentagon investigators concluded that a senior Defense Department official who’s been mentioned as a possible candidate to be the next CIA director leaked restricted information to the makers of an acclaimed film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and referred the case to the Justice Department, according to knowledgeable U.S. officials.
The Justice Department received the case involving Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers in September, but so far it’s declined to launch a criminal prosecution, said two senior U.S. officials who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The case involved a determination by investigators of the Pentagon’s inspector general’s office that Vickers provided the makers of the film “Zero Dark Thirty” with the restricted name of a U.S. Special Operations Command officer who helped plan the May 2, 2011, raid on bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan, one official said.
The identities of special forces personnel can be classified in certain circumstances and making them public is against the law, according to experts.
Vickers, a former Army special forces operator and onetime CIA paramilitary officer, is the top intelligence adviser to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and oversees the Pentagon’s vast intelligence operations. He’s been frequently mentioned as a candidate to replace retired Army Gen. David Petraeus as CIA director.