Amid controversy, film on bin Laden death airs

Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan Google

Updated 11:30pm ET

A docudrama about the raid of Osama bin Laden's compound aired tonight despite outcry from Republican critics who say the timing of the debut is meant to influence the presidential election.

President Obama's voice is part of "SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden", which aired on the National Geographic Channel, and the debate among high ranking administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on whether to move forward with the attack is featured. The president is portrayed to unilaterally make the decision despite great political and human risk.

Refuting the timing as political for airing the film so close to Election Day, National Geographic CEO David Lyle said recently, "I think the end titles run longer than Obama's time on screen."

In polls, Mr. Obama receives favorable approval ratings on his handling of foreign policy, and the death of bin Laden is something his surrogates often tout on the campaign trail.

Actors are used and the docudrama uses original footage and reenactments to tell the story of the SEAL Team Six members' preparation and implementation of the raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was found and killed. As it's not a straight documentary, artistic license is used to tell a compelling story.

A trailer of the film has the president's voice saying "There are a lot of things that could wrong. There are a lot of moving parts here. If I'm sending those guys in and Murphy's Law applies and something happens, could we still get our guys out?" He acknowledges the soldiers are taking "huge risks." The last half of the trailer shows a gun fight in a dark room, but it is unclear a reenactment from inside the compound or just a training session.

CBS News' "60 Minutes" spoke to one of the SEALs in September. Mark Owen, a pseudonym, was the first to divulge insight to a national audience. He walked through the mission that began with training in the United States to the assignation of bin Laden on a top floor of the Pakistan compound.

The film "SEAL Team Six" is not the only public accounting of what happened in the hunt for bin Laden. Owen has written a book and "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow's film, "Zero Dark Thirty" is set to be released later this fall. Republicans accused the White House of working with Bigelow and possibly providing classified information to the Hollywood director.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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