U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder explained before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Associated Press’ phone records was about searching for a leak that had provided the news organization with compromising anti-terror information.
“I’ve been a prosecutor since 1976, and I have to say that this is among, if not the most serious – it’s in the top two or three – most serious leaks that I’ve ever seen,” Holder said, referring to the source(s) that provided the AP with its scoop on the foiled terror plot in Yemen. “It put the American people at risk. And that is not hyperbole.”
But there may be more to this story. Much more.
“For five days, reporters at the Associated Press had been sitting on a big scoop about a foiled al-Qaeda plot at the request of CIA officials,” the Washington Post reports. “Then, in a hastily scheduled Monday morning meeting, the journalists were asked by agency officials to hold off on publishing the story for just one more day.”
Okay, so the AP was set to release its big story on May 2, one year after Seal Team Six finished off Bin Laden, “but held off at the CIA’s request for security reasons,” as Hot Air notes, and eventually published on May 7.
But here’s something from the WaPo report: “The CIA officials, who had initially cited national security concerns in an attempt to delay publication, no longer had those worries.”
Just to be clear, the AP was originally asked to hold off due to CIA security concerns — but then was asked to continue to hold off even though security was no longer an issue.
“Instead, the Obama administration was planning to announce the successful counterterrorism operation that Tuesday,” the report continues.
So despite the absence of the CIA’s previous “security reasons,” the administration still didn’t want the AP to publish the story?
Why? The Washington Post offers some details:
When the journalists rejected a plea to hold off longer, the CIA then offered a compromise. Would they wait a day if AP could have the story exclusively for an hour, with no government officials confirming it for that time?
The reporters left the meeting to discuss the idea with their editors. Within an hour, an administration official was on the line to AP’s offices.
The White House had quashed the one-hour offer as impossible. AP could have the story exclusively for five minutes before the White House made its own announcement. AP then rejected the request to postpone publication any longer.
Did the White House try to prevent the AP from publishing its big scoop so that it could break the news itself? Remember, CIA Director John Brennan went on television the next morning to hail the administration’s glorious anti-terror victory.
Also, who was the “White House official”?
Obviously, the WaPo report raises more questions than it answers and it may take awhile before we actually get to the bottom of this story.
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Featured image Getty Images. This post has been updated.