Former FBI agent arrested for leaking secret data

Former FBI agent arrested for leaking secret data
Tue Sep 24, 2013 22:24:15

A former FBI explosives expert has been charged with leaking the classified information about an upgraded underwear bomb involved in a foiled terrorist plot in Yemen.

Donald Sachtleben was also charged with distributing child pornography and now faces a total of 11 years and eight months behind bars for the two crimes, a report in the Daily Mail said Tuesday.

The leak led to a second controversy as it was revealed that the Attorney General’s office seized the Associated Press’ phone records when they were trying to discover the reporter’s source.

The US Justice Department said in a statement that its pursuit of Sachtleben was made easier by the child pornography investigation, but that Sachtleben was not identified as a suspect in the leaks case until after investigators had analyzed the AP phone records and compared them to other evidence in their possession.

The deal is the latest legal action in the Obama administration's aggressive pursuit of people it believes have revealed government secrets, including seeking records and even testimony of journalists who prosecutors believe were given classified information and then published stories about it.

The information Sachtleben gave to the AP revealed that American intelligence agencies had learned that al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen hoped to launch a spectacular attack using a new, nearly undetectable bomb aboard a US-bound airliner around the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.

The AP's May 7, 2012, story attributed details of the operation, including that the FBI had the bomb in its possession, to unnamed government officials.

CIA Director John Brennan has called the leak 'irresponsible and damaging,' while Attorney General Eric Holder said the story was the result of 'a very serious leak, a very grave leak.'

Just over a year after the story appeared, on May 10, the Justice Department informed AP that it had secretly obtained nearly two months of call records for more than 20 telephone lines used by AP reporters and editors, including some who worked on the story.

The news cooperative protested the government's actions as chilling to investigative journalism and the company and its reporters did not cooperate in the investigation.

AP chief executive Gary Pruitt called the records' seizure a 'massive and unprecedented intrusion' into how news organizations gather the news.
The court records do not identify AP or name the reporter who communicated with Sachtleben.

Sachtleben spent 25 years as an FBI special agent bomb technician and worked on major cases involving terrorist attacks, the government said.

He retired in 2008, but was rehired as an FBI contractor and kept his 'top secret' security clearance and access to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia.


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