WaPo: CIA asked AP not to expose Yemen terror plot bust until White House was ready to crow about it publicly

posted at 2:01 pm on May 16, 2013 by Allahpundit

The whole point of Holder’s presser on Tuesday, I thought, was to stress that the DOJ had to take extraordinary action in subpoenaing the AP’s phone records because the leak itself was so extraordinary. The clear impression was that the AP’s story had put the public in danger by compromising operations in Yemen, therefore the DOJ had to go the extra mile in finding out which national-security official had blabbed. Direct quote from Holder:

“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 added. “It put the American people at risk. And that is not hyperbole.”

Fast-forward to today. Was the public ever actually at risk? Why, no, says WaPo. In fact, the AP held the story for days so as not to jeopardize U.S. counterterror ops, and only went ahead and published after the CIA assured them that there was no longer a risk. Nothing was compromised. Maybe Holder simply meant that the leak could have put the public at risk had the AP published right away, but WaPo seems to have another theory about why the White House was so angry afterward:

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. 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.

The CIA officials, who had initially cited national security concerns in an attempt to delay publication, no longer had those worries, according to individuals familiar with the exchange. Instead, the Obama administration was planning to announce the successful counterterrorism operation that Tuesday

Now, some members of Congress and media advocates are questioning why the administration viewed the leak that led to the May 7 AP story as so grave.

The AP was prepared to publish on May 2, 2012, the one-year anniversary of the Bin Laden killing, but held off at the CIA’s request for security reasons. A few days later, there were no more security reasons — but there was a political reason:

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.

Am I understanding that correctly? The CIA went on bargaining with the AP after the security worries had evaporated, purely in the interest of preventing the administration from being scooped on its glorious “plot foiled” announcement the next day? (John Brennan ended up on “Good Morning, America” the next morning to crow about the intel victory.) And when the AP didn’t comply — even though it had been, apparently, entirely cooperative up to that point — the DOJ went hunting for its phone records without so much as a polite request first? Also, who was the “administration official” in the White House that couldn’t wait more than five whole minutes after the news broke for Team Obama to take credit, six months out from an election?

The Right Sphere, writing about this same story, comments, “Stealing the Obama administration’s thunder is now grounds for secret subpoenas on the press.” What’s going on here?

Update: To repeat a point made above, and needless to say, it’s perfectly defensible to pursue a leaker even if the leak didn’t end up jeopardizing national security. No harm was done this time thanks to the AP’s discretion, but the same leaker might come back to bite U.S. intelligence in the future. The real questions here are (1) why was the CIA bargaining for more time with the AP after the national-security threat had passed, (2) why was the mysterious White House official so determined not to give the AP a scoop of more than five minutes, despite their cooperation in holding the story, and (3) why wasn’t the AP asked for its phone records first before a subpoena was filed? I understand why the DOJ might not want to tip them off, but they’d been agreeable to the CIA in not publishing on May 2. There was no accommodation at all that could be made with them, even in the form of prompt notice?


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Sounds like their M.O. You go against the wishes or beliefs of this administration, and they will use the full power of the federal government(legally or illegally) to destroy you or if you’re lucky merely to make your life a living hell.

Doughboy on May 16, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Because “I won”

GWB on May 16, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Irony continues. Now Obama wants a federal press shield las.

Idiot, they are protected by the 1st. YOU are the ‘constitutional scholar’, you moron on display.

The presser today was a display in obfuscation and idiocy. It’s a shame that any world leader will stand next and get dirtied by these amoral goofs.

Schadenfreude on May 16, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Smoke and mirrors.

antisocial on May 16, 2013 at 3:09 PM

The State Run Media will still love him in morning…

d1carter on May 16, 2013 at 3:12 PM

NASA – National Advancement of Sharia Administration.

hawkeye54 on May 16, 2013 at 2:54 PM

US Department of 57 States

burrata on May 16, 2013 at 3:13 PM

“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 added. “It put the American people at risk. And that is not hyperbole.”

Well, it’s good to know that, in addition to Holder knowing next to nothing, the stuff he does know is totally wrong.

Dusty on May 16, 2013 at 3:23 PM

I recall all of the many leaks during the Bush years. Leaks that actually damaged national security on many occasions. Not to mention the dubious “leak” of Valery Plame by Armitage that was investigated by a special prosecutor.

I don’t recall on any of those occasions the media’s phone records being subpoenaed. I’m not saying it never happened, I just don’t recall ever hearing about it happening.

This seems like a fairly trivial leak in comparison (a leak about a victory that everyone knew was going to be announced by the WH anyway). In fact, this seems like the kind of routine leaking we see in DC all of the time.

So to claim this requires the subpoenaing of all the AP’s phone records defies credibility. The motive here is clear – to get the press back in line and show them who is boss.

You watch. There will never be any real investigation into who the leaker was and it will all be dropped – despite telling us how important it is to national security that this happen in the first place.

Monkeytoe on May 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Is the OSU you refer to Ohio State, Oklahoma State or Oregon State University?

chemman on May 16, 2013 at 2:35 PM

The Ohio State University

dominigan on May 16, 2013 at 4:02 PM

The answer is simple – The AP used a narrative that did not jive with Team SCOAMT’s assertions that Al Qaeda was dead along with Osama bin Laden. As for the delays, the delay in investigating was because Team SCOAMT needed the AP on board the Presstitute Organ Train until after the election, and the further delay in telling the AP it was being investigated is the Chitcago Way.

Steve Eggleston on May 16, 2013 at 4:07 PM

People need to make sure they word this right…

The big question is, would the AP have been investigated if they had given into the administration and had not published until 1 hour before the press conference.

ninjapirate on May 16, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Had they still called it an Al Qeada plot timed to “commemorate” bin Laden’s killing, you’re damn right they would have still been investigated.

Steve Eggleston on May 16, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Sheesh, I was saying yesterday that this looked like retaliation for not playing ball and sacrificing a scoop to Obama’s propaganda machine. That is the way Barry and Eric and David roll.

novaculus on May 16, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Speaking abut terrorism, did Hussein ask his phone-and-flotilla buddy the Turkish Cardigan what his ambassador was doing with our Stevens in Benghazi ? You know before muzies got all worked up over that youtube video ?????

burrata on May 16, 2013 at 2:33 PM

They were trading hummus recipes?

workingclass artist on May 16, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Speaking abut terrorism, did Hussein ask his phone-and-flotilla buddy the Turkish Cardigan what his ambassador was doing with our Stevens in Benghazi ? You know before muzies got all worked up over that youtube video ?????

burrata on May 16, 2013 at 2:33 PM

The timing is interesting… just a few hours before the attack was the meeting with the Turkish Minister.

Makes you wonder what he learned during that meeting.

A suspicious mind might almost start thinking that the entire ‘terrorist attack’ was a hit job: no follow-up to get the obvious terrorists at coffee houses months afterwards, no indictments from the lovely FBI, no reprisals against the group that did it. A very suspicious mind might just think that Amb. Stevens was set-up to be killed for what he knew that the Administration didn’t want getting out.

It is the Chicago Way, after all.

ajacksonian on May 16, 2013 at 4:23 PM

If all of that is about the AP not giving the WH its moment in the sun to brag… then they really are petty children.

Karmashock on May 16, 2013 at 4:24 PM

This is making my head spin.
If the lapdog media weren’t ready to bite the hand that feeds them yesterday, they ought to be livid today.
Is this as petty as it sounds or am I reading it wrong?

ORconservative on May 16, 2013 at 2:03 PM

Consider that perhaps the story about the leak of this al Qaeda plot justifying this seizure of phone records is a complete lie. It was a convenient justification that they thought no one would question.

It sounds bizarre, but it’s a very simple explanation, and given the mendacity of this administration it’s very believable.

So what were they really looking for with such a broad and deep seizure of records? What was going on in that period of time that the administration wanted so badly to know about?

slickwillie2001 on May 16, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Do we really want to buy the administration’s line that this was about national security and a foiled terror plot? They lied and lied and lied about Benghazi being sparked by a YouTube video, so why would they tell us the truth about this. Look deeper. What information were they really after?

bitsy on May 16, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Also, who was the “administration official” in the White House that couldn’t wait more than five whole minutes after the news broke for Team Obama to take credit, six months out from an election?

My vote is Valerie Jarrett. The AP & IRS scandals have her stench all over them.

MississippiMom on May 16, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Rep. Louie Gohmert on the AP scandal, finally someone has said what needs to be said:

When there is a tyrannical despot the media will be one of the early victims

Axion on May 16, 2013 at 5:44 PM

this press really is like a battered wife. they keep going back. currently they are running stories claiming an “angry 0bama fires head of IRS” when its been well known since last nite the guy was leaving next month anyway.

chasdal on May 16, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Does anybody believe a word that Eric Holder says..?

d1carter on May 16, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Wonder if the lsm is worried about what a real investigation would be like if they actually leaked a real serious top two in Holder’s view kinda leak? Since he doesn’t seem to spend a lot of time behind his desk, how would he know if there was a top two in his lifetime kinda leak that had been leaked anyways? Oh, yeah, he could find out by watching CNN.

Kissmygrits on May 16, 2013 at 6:42 PM

The AP was being the lap dogs by holding the story but they got too excited about the story and a victory for there master of a failed plot, that they peed on the lap.

tjexcite on May 16, 2013 at 6:45 PM

You mean like a tea party?

davidk on May 16, 2013 at 6:59 PM

A real one. I mean tens of millions of Americans saying ‘No more tax payments until you moor the country back to the Constitution, get rid of crony capitalism, prosecute the thugs and corrupt bureaucrats in government, get the boots of ABCs off of the necks of Americans and their businesses, stop rewarding failure and punishing success, etc. Not one more dime. Arrest ALL of us.’

Resist We Much on May 16, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Re “Arrest ALL of us”, maybe they’re one step ahead of you and that’s what the DHS holding pens and the billions of bullets are for.

It might be easier to convince thirty or forty million people to not fill out IRS Form OMBA in 2014.

slickwillie2001 on May 16, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Fifty thousand IRS thugs cannot enforce a law that one hundred million people simply refuse to obey….especially if that one hundred million have guns. Apologies to Gandhi or whoever first came up with that.

Oldnuke on May 16, 2013 at 7:36 PM

The AP was being the lap dogs by holding the story but they got too excited about the story and a victory for there master of a failed plot, that they peed on the lap.

tjexcite on May 16, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Lap dogs get eaten first in this Administration.

You don’t have to chase them.

ajacksonian on May 16, 2013 at 8:45 PM

So what were they really looking for with such a broad and deep seizure of records? What was going on in that period of time that the administration wanted so badly to know about?

slickwillie2001 on May 16, 2013 at 4:32 PM

I was wondering if I was too cynical when I think they really did not care so much about the leaker as they were interested in what conversations they were having with congress people? Glad to see I am not the only one.

KW64 on May 16, 2013 at 8:46 PM

We all know the National Security Card was played to cover the real reason they were tapping the AP. They wanted to know what the AP was investigating. Chavez might have died but his spirit lives on in the man we know as Obama.

James on May 16, 2013 at 9:19 PM

I’ve decided that from here on I will refer to the AG as Epic Hodor. He is one of the supporting characters in Obama’s #GameOfScandals.

CitizenEgg on May 17, 2013 at 7:00 AM

At the heart of all the emerging ‘scandals’ – IRS targeting specific groups, secret AP phone records, Benghazi cover-up, and who knows what else might come to light – is this:

Obama’s ambition, to win a second term presidency, not on his own merit. Just like his winning the first term, nothing he has done deserves ‘the prize’.

ALL of the scandals (so far) can be traced back to Obama himself.

Sir Napsalot on May 17, 2013 at 7:57 AM

Seeing those two twits pictured together, I can understand how some could go “racist”.

SpiderMike on May 18, 2013 at 11:26 AM

If I’m the AP, I have my interns call every number at State, Defense, Justice, and CIA twice a day from here on out to provide cover.

goatweed on May 19, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Or is that concealment? Can’t keep them straight.

goatweed on May 19, 2013 at 9:16 AM

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