White House and State Department officials cooperated extensively on background with a New York Times journalist during the period that he broke confidential national security information in a series of leaks that prompted outrage from lawmakers, according to unearthed 2011 and 2012 emails.
The nonprofit organization Freedom Watch, which obtained the internal State Department emails through a Freedom of Information Act request, believes that the Obama administration carried out the leaks to bolster a tough image for itself on Iran.
Then-Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Michael Hammer and other State Department employees arranged background interviews between New York Times chief Washington correspondent David Sanger and State Department officials between December 2011 and March 2012 for Sanger’s 2012 book “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power.”
Sanger’s book included leaks of confidential national security information, including details of the computer worm Stuxnet that was used in a cyberattack against Iran. Sanger linked the worm to a U.S.-Israeli intelligence operation called “Operation Olympic Games” in a June 2012 New York Times article.
White House officials, including then-National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, began cooperating with Sanger before December 12, 2011.