Will Fox News Correct Its Erroneous Reporting On The Foiled Al Qaeda Bomb Plot?

Blog ››› ››› LAURA SANTHANAM

Fox News has ignored reports that contradict its baseless speculation that the White House leaked information about a foiled terror attack.  

After reports surfaced in May 2012 that a foiled Al Qaeda bomb plot was leaked to the press, Fox News accused the White House of releasing the information for political gain. On Monday, Politico reported that court documents revealed ex-FBI agent Donald Sachtleben gave information to a journalist about the plot that targeted a commercial airliner. According to Politico, Sachtleben "disclosed classified information about the plot to a journalist":

The Justice Department says it's solved one of the most significant leak cases in recent memory: disclosure of an Al Qaeda airliner-bombing plot last year that had reportedly been penetrated by western intelligence services.

Former FBI agent Donald Sachtleben, 55, admitted in court papers Monday that he disclosed classified information about the plot to a journalist. The court filings don't directly identify the reporter or the news outlet, but they refer to an Associated Press report on the plot.

A federal law enforcement official who asked not to be named also told POLITICO the leaks in question were to the Associated Press.

The court papers indicate that Sachtleben, a bomb expert who was working as a contract technician at the FBI lab at the time of the leak last year, obtained information about the case from FBI lab computers after exchanging text messages with an AP reporter.

This development contradicts the scandal mongering Fox News repeatedly used to attack the White House, saying it planted the leak to help President Obama politically. On the June 11, 2012, edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity compared the incident to the Bush administration's Valerie Plame scandal and took a swipe at the Obama Administration, saying, "This is infinitely worse. This was super-secret":

One year later, right-wing media continued to prop up this cynical and now-debunked narrative. In a May 17 blog post, Fox News contributor Chris Stirewalt said the leak occurred prior to the 2012 presidential election because "Team Obama was very much focused on burnishing the president's commander-in-chief credentials."

The Washington Post reports today that after sitting on the story for five days, AP got the all clear from the CIA on national security on May 7, 2012. But there was a still a problem: the White House was planning to announce the operation the next day and the AP story would step on the big announcement.

The spy agency then made a proposal: wait one more day and then the AP could have the story as an exclusive for an hour. The Post says that while the news service was mulling the idea, a White House official called and nixed the one-hour exclusive, telling AP that they could have five minutes of exclusivity before the administration started pushing out the story.

Remember the timing here. This was just after President Obama had celebrated the one-year anniversary of the killing of Usama bin Laden and the administration was or would soon be pushing out stories about kill lists and a decimated al Qaeda. As Republican Mitt Romney was trying to mount his general election challenge, Team Obama was very much focused on burnishing the president's commander-in-chief credentials.

 At time of posting, Fox News had yet to correct its erroneous reports.

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National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
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