The CIA Meets with Michael Bay

It claims it wanted to make sure his upcoming Benghazi movie won't reveal any classified information.


Celebrated auteur Michael Bay has been making a movie about Benghazi. (It's slated to come out in January, the month for motion pictures so good they don't even want an Oscar.) The project attracted the attention of the CIA, and the agency requested a meeting with the director.

The Daily Beast's Asawin Suebsaeng asked the CIA to explain its interest:

Six men had the courage to take a meeting.

The agency has a long history of attempting to gain influence in Hollywood and independent American media, and in 1996 opened its very own Entertainment Liaison Office, which advises high-profile filmmakers and projects. So if you're watching a flashy Hollywood thriller starring, say, a young, exceptionally handsome Colin Farrell as a well-groomed CIA badass, you can safely assume that the agency consulted on it in the service of image control.

But this time, the CIA says it initially just wanted to check that the new Michael Bay Benghazi movie wouldn't jeopardize national security, or compromise their officers and agents working abroad….

Intelligence officials apparently had particular concerns that certain information in the Mitchell Zuckoff nonfiction book, on which Bay's film is based, would end up in the final cut of the movie. This would allegedly jeopardize the security and safety of intelligence agency personnel serving in the field, in part because a major Hollywood production could widely disseminate protocol and procedures that the CIA uses to protect its staff in foreign locations, according to a source with knowledge of the matter….

It is unclear which parts of Zuckoff's book that the agency found most problematic. Of course, any "classified" information that the CIA would be worried about having leaked has already been publicly available in bookstores and libraries all around the world for over a year now.

A spokesman for Bay told Suebsaeng that the filmmaker met with the CIA "to fact-check, and get the agency's perspective, basically. There were questions about protocol, what happened on that night." So Bay says he was trying to get his facts right, and the agency says it was trying to make sure he didn't get them too right. And if a little image-management happened in the process…well, what difference, at this point, does it make?