The Zero Dark Thirty files

The National Security Archive, a nonprofit founded by journalists and scholars in 1985 "to check rising government secrecy," has published all of the available official government documents about the mission to kill the leader of al-Qaeda.

The poster for the blockbuster movie Zero Dark Thirty features black lines of redaction over the title, which unintentionally illustrate the most accurate take-away from the film - that most of the official record of the hunt for Osama bin Laden is still shrouded in secrecy, according to the National Security Archive's ZD30 briefing book, posted today at www.nsarchive.org. The U.S. government's recalcitrance over releasing information directly to the public about the twenty-first century's most important intelligence search and military raid, and its decision instead to grant the film's producers exclusive and unprecedented access to classified information about the operation, means that for the time being – for bad or good – Hollywood has become the public's "account of record" for Operation Neptune Spear.

As often happens when the government declines on secrecy grounds to provide an authoritative account of a controversial event, leaked, unauthorized and untrustworthy versions rush to fill the void. In this extraordinary case, a Hollywood motion picture, with apparent White House, CIA, and Pentagon blessing and despite its historical inaccuracies, is now the closest thing to the official story behind the pursuit of bin Laden.

Browse the documents here.