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Congressman claims press leak interrupted Al Qaeda bomb plot investigation

 

The chairman of the House intelligence committee claimed Wednesday that the press leak on the failed Al Qaeda-affiliate bomb plot short-circuited the counterterrorism operation being led by the U.S. and its partners -- which apparently involved infiltrating the dangerous group.   

In an interview on Fox News, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said the leaks "didn't allow the operation to go ... to its full conclusion." 

"There were other opportunities, I believe, (that) were lost by the fact that it was leaked on Monday," Rogers said.

But a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak on internal discussions, disputed Rogers' claims.

"This is just totally wrong. First of all, the notion that this was an intentional leak is ludicrous. We actually fought to prevent this information from coming out, and then we fought to delay the AP’s publication of it for operational reasons," the official told Fox News. "No one is more upset than us about this disclosure."

The Associated Press first reported on the failed bomb plot, which involved a sophisticated new type of explosive device, on Monday. Rogers said the information was leaked as far back as two weeks ago, though the story was held until this week. 

Information continues to stream out about the plot, with sources now saying the supposed bomber was actually a U.S. intelligence informant who infiltrated Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. 

But Rogers, aside from expressing concern that the Monday reporting halted an ongoing operation, questioned the veracity of some of the details still being reported about the operation -- without offering specifics. He said the leaks could challenge the U.S. relationship with its intelligence partners overseas. 

"These leaks are dangerous and could lead to someone's death," he said. 

Rogers said he's conducting a "preliminary review," and questioned whether someone "may be trying to put this in a political narrative to help their politics." 

Other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have likewise expressed concern about the flow of information in the press about the plot. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the leak is being regarded as serious and should not have happened. 

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also called for an investigation into leaks. 

"The plot's disclosure and further leaks raise troubling questions and potentially jeopardize the work of our intelligence agencies," he said in a statement. 

Administration officials say the public was never in danger during this operation. 

While some lawmakers have expressed concern about the way the operation was handled in the press, they are praising the operation as a major intelligence victory.