Government’s Hunt for Leakers in New York Times’ Stuxnet Story Put Chill on News Sources

Thursday, May 30, 2013
David Sanger (photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

If President Barack Obama’s goal was to discourage government employees from leaking classified information to the media, he has succeeded.

 

Accounts from current and former federal workers show the administration has made it very uncomfortable for anyone suspected of talking to reporters about secret programs or documents.

 

Hundreds of officials in the federal government, and even some working for other countries, have been questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to The New York Times.

 

The newspaper itself has been scrutinized by the administration for reporting on the Stuxnet worm that was unleashed on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that investigation in June of last year. David Sanger’s 2012 story, which cited anonymous sources in claiming that Stuxnet was developed by the U.S. and Israel, resulted in federal agents probing the emails and telephone records of government officials who communicated with him.

 

Among those questioned, and whose phone and email records have been scrutinized, were employees of the White House, Defense Department, and U.S. intelligence agencies who may have been in contact with Sanger.

 

Some people in Washington are now avoiding calls from the media, fearful that any contact with reporters will result in the FBI showing up at their door.

 

“For every reporter that is dealing with this, there are hundreds of national security officials who feel under siege—without benefit of a corporate legal department or a media megaphone for support,” a former Obama administration official told the Times. “There are lots of people in the government spending lots of money on legal fees.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Leak Inquiries Show How Wide a Net U.S. Cast (by Ethan Bronner, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane, New York Times)

Justice Department Investigated NY Times Reporter Over Stuxnet Story (by Todd Beamon, Newsmax)

Justice Dept. Secretly Obtained Phone Records of Associated Press…Obama Crosses the Freedom of the Press Line (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov) 

What is the Secret Memo that Gives Obama’s FBI Access to Phone Records without Court Approval? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Stuxnet Attack on Iran…the Worm that Keeps on Giving (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Top Middle East Story of 2010? Israeli Readers Choose Stuxnet Virus over U.S. Pullout from Iraq (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

FBI Violated Law in Obtaining Phone Records of Journalists and Others (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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