New York Times reporter David Sanger on Sunday defended his reporting amid an intense debate and investigation of alleged national security leaks.
CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Howard Kurtz said the information in Sanger’s book — that President Obama accelerated cyber attacks against Iran — seemed like information the administration wanted out.
“I have my doubts about that,” Sanger responded. “This was 18 months of reporting, long before the political season started.”
Sanger told Kurtz that “of course” he worked with administration officials in the process of reporting the book. “This is a book about the totality of the national security strategy of President Obama, what’s worked and what hasn’t. … How do you report a book about that without talking to people who were in the room?”
Sanger’s book, and a New York Times piece on Obama’s use of a “kill list” to coordinate drone attacks, has sparked bipartisan outrage over the supposed national security leaks. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are calling for hearings on the leaks. President Obama denounced the leaks, calling the notion that they came from the White House “offensive.” And Attorney General Eric Holder has assigned two prosecutors to investigate the possible disclosures of classified information.
Sanger and the Times took the stories to the administration before publishing. “No one from the White House, no one from the administration ever said to us ‘do not publish this,’” Sanger said. He staunchly defended his newspaper’s reporting, saying that the Times and other papers exist to publish stories of public interest. “There are no more vital questions than how the President of the United States uses American power.”
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David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com