There is an alarming report the FBI had a senior ABC news journalist as a confidential informant in the 1990s — a report who was actually given a confidential source designation with other snitches. The reporter appears to have passed along confidential information to the FBI including the identification of a confidential source. The reporter is identified only as informant number NY290000-SI-DT and the description as “a senior official employed by ABC News for over 15 years.”
The reporter was clearly involved the early coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing. However, ABC is quoted as dismissing the matter by saying that it does not know who the reporter was but curiously stated its confidence that the reporter was no longer working for the network.
The report raised highly disturbing questions. The first and most important question is who was aware of the running of a mole or snitch at ABC, including the agent contact with the report and that agent’s supervisors. This should be a matter for investigation within both the legislative and executive branches. It is a direct threat to a free press and is a common practice in authoritarian countries.
The second question is what ABC is doing about the story. The network owes its sources and its staff a thorough investigation.
One person who has been the subject of speculation, Washington bureau chief for CBS News Christopher Isham, has now denied being informant number NY290000-SI-DT.
The FBI has refused to identify the reporter. Worse yet, the FBI indicated that it may have had other reporters in the past who were used as confidential sources. I am not sure why this report has not caused a firestorm of controversy. The FBI just admitted to penetrating a leading news organization with an informant and the silence is deafening.
The recently released memo shows that “several high-ranking FBI officials were involved in approving the approach to the ABC reporter, including Supervisory Special Agent Thomas Nicoletti and Thomas Pickard, then a special agent in charge of the FBI’s New York office who eventually would rise to the No. 2 job in the bureau.” Nicoletti was later hired by ABC as a consultant.
Nicoletti and Pickard may no longer be subject to discipline within the FBI but they are worthy of public condemnation if this story is true. Their lack of judgment should be the cause for legislation barring such misconduct in the future.
Source: Public Integrity