Vice’s Jason Leopold (4/6/16) has uncovered documents showing the CIA had a role in producing up to 22 entertainment “projects,” including History Channeldocumentary Air America: The CIA’s Secret Airline, Bravo‘s Top Chef: Covert Cuisine, the USA Networkseries Covert Affairs and the BBC documentary The Secret War on Terror—along with two fictional feature films about the CIA that both came out in 2012.
The CIA’s involvement in the production of Zero Dark Thirty (effectively exchanging “insider” access for a two-hour-long torture commercial) has already been well-established, but the agency’s role in the production of Argo—which won the Best Picture Oscar for 2012—was heretofore unknown. The extent of the CIA’s involvement in the projects is still largely classified, as Leopold notes, quoting an Agency audit report:
However, because of the lack of adequate records, we were unable to determine the extent of the CIA’s support to the eight projects, the extent to which foreign nationals participated in CIA-sponsored activities, and whether the Director/OPA approved the activities and participation of foreign nationals…. Failure on the part of CIA officers to adhere to the regulatory requirements could result in unauthorized disclosures, inappropriate actions and negative consequences for the CIA.