As DOJ Hunts For 'Second Leaker,' Will It Also Explore Who Leaked The Intercept's Story To The AP?

from the questions-to-ponder dept

Earlier this week, Tim Cushing wrote about The Intercept’s latest scoop, concerning the makeup of the US government’s federal terrorist watchlist, and the fact that a large chunk of it isn’t affiliated with any terrorist groups. While most of the article focused on that point, he made two other notes in passing — the first was that it was obvious that this release was from a second leaker, not Snowden, and the second was about how the government “leaked” the story in a “friendlier” manner to the AP in order to beat The Intercept. We thought both of these asides were interesting, but they’ve both turned into big stories on their own.

CNN later confirmed that US government officials are now searching for the second leaker (though “second” may not be accurate either…), more or less confirming what many people had been suspecting. Meanwhile, the “scoop spoiling” by the federal government actually resulted in a semi-apology from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) who gave the scoop to the AP. The NCTC claimed it had been working with the AP on a story for a while, and after seeing what The Intercept was doing, felt it needed to give them the heads up, though it also says it could have handled the situation better. Of course, this also makes it more likely that The Intercept won’t bother giving the government much time (if any) to respond on future stories. Why risk the chance of having the government spoil the scoop again?

However, with all this concern about the “second leaker,” Chris Soghoian asks a very good question. If the Justice Department is going to go hunting for whoever leaked the information to The Intercept, will it similarly go after whoever at NCTC was apparently providing the same basic information to the Associated Press? Or how about the person who told CNN that the US government believes there’s a “second leaker”? Because that information is also a leak, and potentially a big one, given that it will alert the leaker that the government is searching for him or her.

Somehow, we don’t think the DOJ will be too concerned about those leaks. “Official” leaks happen all the time and no one cares. It’s just the leaks that make the government look bad that somehow are seen as criminal.

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Companies: associated press, cnn, the intercept

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Comments on “As DOJ Hunts For 'Second Leaker,' Will It Also Explore Who Leaked The Intercept's Story To The AP?”

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Violynne (profile) says:

“…given that it will alert the leaker that the government is searching for him or her.”
Can’t agree with this. It’s in the very term: whistle blower. The alert was already sounded the moment they started turning over information.

Their concern now is not getting caught.

To the informant(s): know when to fold your hand and leave the table. Good luck!

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