Employees at the secretive National Security Agency were not too happy about the 1998 blockbuster film "Enemy of the State" that starred Will Smith.
That shouldn't come as a surprise — the spy agency was portrayed as the villain — but now BuzzFeed News has obtained internal emails that prove it.
Directed by Tony Scott, the film was highly critical of NSA. The plot began with agency operatives murdering a congressman opposed to a surveillance bill — which was caught on tape — setting off a cat-and-mouse game between attorney Robert Dean (played by Will Smith) and agents trying to pursue him.
The film depicted the agency as having vast technical know-how and incredible surveillance capabilities (many of which were later confirmed by the Edward Snowden leaks). Once he saw the film, then-NSA Director Lt. Gen Michael Hayden saw a PR nightmare, telling CNN in 2001:
Though the Snowden documents have not shown evidence of NSA agents killing congressman and others it disagrees with, they have offered evidence of many of the surveillance capabilities the film depicted. These include telephone wiretaps, GPS trackers, email intercepts, and other technology that has typically been used in drone strikes on suspected terrorists.
The NSA was initially supportive of the film and met with Scott, Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and Executive Producer Andy Davis with the hopes of painting the agency in a positive light. Those hopes were quickly dashed at the film's release, though some were annoyed even as it was still in production.
Unfortunately for Cheebie, NSA's public affairs team was unable to stop the helicopter flyover due to FAA regulations. "Believe me, we tried," a public affairs official wrote.
Read the documents below (via BuzzFeed News):