Even killing the country’s top terrorist will only get you so far: the CIA agent instrumental in bringing the agency to Osama bin Laden has been passed over for a promotion and has caused problems with her colleagues, the Washington Post reports.
The real-life identity of the CIA agent portrayed as the heroine in the upcoming motion picture release “Zero Dark Thirty” remains under wraps, but the Post reports this week that the person Hollywood used as the basis for the character “Maya” has made it a habit of attracting controversy in the year-and-a-half since she helped bring down the United States’ enemy number one.
In the film, the thirty-something intelligence operative that tracked down bin Laden by way of his courier is considered, in the words of the Post’s Greg Miller, “near-messianic.” That may be the case in the minds of director Kathryn Bigelow, but the story in real life is apparently all other sorts of sensational.
According to intelligence officials who have spoken to the reporter on condition of anonymity, the real-life CIA agent who inspired the character of Maya has been making waves in the aftermath of the May 2011 execution in Islamabad, Pakistan.
“She’s not Miss Congeniality, but that’s not going to find Osama bin Laden,” said one former colleague to the paper.
“The agency is a funny place, very insular,” the source added. “It’s like middle-schoolers with clearances.”
If that’s the case, then the real-life Maya may not have exactly aced the algebra exam that is the CIA, even if she helped take down Osama bin Laden after a decade of pursuit. One source says that the agent was up for a promotion within months of the Seal Team Six raid on the Islamabad compound, but was denied the pay raise of around $16,000 a year. The promotion would have also ranked the agent’s civil service rank, the sources claim, but the CIA opted instead to give her only a cash bonus.
The Post’s sources add that the real life agent’s attitude around the office has not gone unnoticed, and she attracted even more attention when she mass-circulated an email earlier this year condemning his own co-workers. The real-life Maya was made one of a handful of recipients to the CIA’s prestigious Distinguished Intelligence Medal this spring, the Post reports, but sharing such accolades with others apparently didn’t sit well.
“She hit ‘reply all’ ” to an email announcement of the awards, a second former CIA agent recalls to Miller. Then, to all of her colleagues, the agent sent a message along the lines of, “You guys tried to obstruct me. You fought me. Only I deserve the award.”
One source tells the Post that a testy attitude is typical within the CIA, and says “Do you know how many CIA officers are jerks?”
“If that was a disqualifier, the whole National Clandestine Service would be gone,” the former agent claims.
Even still, the real-life Maya’s online outburst “stunned” her colleagues, the source says.
Miller writes that the agent herself is barred from speaking with journalists and the CIA declined to answer any questions about her personally. Hollywood hasn’t had nearly as hard of a time obtaining access, though. During pre-production, the hot-shots in charge of putting together “Zero Dark Thirty” were allowed unprecedented unfettered access to sensitive CIA documents still unavailable to the American public.
When the watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained documents showing a connection between Washington and Hollywood through a Freedom of Information Act request, they wrote the papers showed “politically-connected filmmakers were given extraordinary and secret access to bin Laden raid information, including the identity of a Seal Team Six leader.”