A Democratic staffer’s access to classified information was recently suspended by House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), supposedly because the staffer requested a copy of a National Intelligence Estimate two days before it was reported in the New York Times.
But, as the Washington Post notes, the New York Times was interviewing government officials about the NIE for weeks before the story was printed:
Intelligence community sources, speaking anonymously because the NIE remains classified, have told The Washington Post that Times reporters were asking questions about the contents of that NIE weeks before publication of the story. In his story, Times reporter Mark Mazzetti wrote that over the weeks he had interviewed “a dozen United States government officials and outside experts . . . for this article.” He added that all “had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts.”
The staffer requested the NIE because Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) received a media inquiry about it. The staffer provided the NIE to Tierney in an appropriate manner. Once Tierney saw the NIE was classified “he refused to discuss it with reporters.”
Hoekstra’s only apparent reason for suspending the staffer was the timeline of his request. The timeline, however, virtually precludes the possibility that the staffer was the source of the leak.