FBI Investigating Al Qaida Plot Leak
The F.B.I. director told a Congressional committee on Wednesday that the authorities were investigating how information about a thwarted plot by Al Qaeda to detonate a bomb on an airliner bound for the United States was leaked to the news media.
At a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the director, Robert S. Mueller III, said that the disclosure of the information about the plot, which was first reported by The Associated Press on May 7, compromised the United States’ operations against Al Qaeda.Mr. Mueller said that such a leak threatens operations, “puts at risk the lives of sources, makes it much more difficult to recruit sources, and damages our relationships with our foreign partners.”“Consequently, a leak like this is taken exceptionally seriously, and we will investigate thoroughly,” he added.The investigation continues an unprecedented focus by the Obama administration on targeting the sources of unauthorized disclosures of classified information to the news media. The administration has prosecuted six such cases, compared with a total of three under all previous presidents.The prosecutions have had strong bipartisan support from Congress but have been sharply criticized by press advocates as misguided crackdowns on whistle-blowers. On Wednesday, members of the Senate committee endorsed the idea of the investigation.“Regardless of political consequences, I hope that you get to the bottom of it,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, the ranking member of the committee. “Our international partners have been wary of cooperating with us in the wake of the WikiLeaks affair, in which our ability to keep their confidence was severely damaged.”