National Editor's Brother Figures in CIA Leak Case
January 6, 2013 at 8:18 am
The Sunday Times fronts a largely sympathetic article about John C. Kiriakou, described by the article as "the first current or former C.I.A. officer to be convicted of disclosing classified information to a reporter."
From the article:
F.B.I. agents discovered that a human rights advocate hired by the John Adams Project, John Sifton, had compiled a dossier of photographs and names of the C.I.A. officers; that Mr. Sifton had exchanged e-mails with journalists, including Matthew A. Cole, a freelancer then working on a book about a C.I.A. rendition case in Italy that had gone awry; and that Mr. Cole had exchanged e-mails with Mr. Kiriakou. The F.B.I. used search warrants to obtain access to Mr. Kiriakou's two personal e-mail accounts.
According to court documents, F.B.I. agents discovered that in August 2008, Mr. Cole — identified as Journalist A in the charging documents — had asked Mr. Kiriakou if he knew the name of a covert officer who had a supervisory role in the rendition program, which involved capturing terrorism suspects and delivering them to prisons in other countries.
Mr. Kiriakou at first said he did not recall the name, but followed up the next day with an e-mail passing on the name and adding, "It came to me last night," the documents show. (Mr. Sifton, Mr. Cole and federal prosecutors all declined to comment.)
The national editor of the Times, Sam Sifton, confirmed to me in a tweet last night that the John Sifton who figures in the story is his brother.
The connection is not disclosed to Times readers in the article. I'm not arguing it should have been. Maybe the Times would have learned of the story, and featured it just as prominently and sympathetically, without the family connection. The Times article is an interesting story that deserved telling regardless of the family connection. But for readers wondering how it ended up in the Times rather than, say, the Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal, or Politico, knowing of the family connection makes it make some more sense. Editors have family, and sometimes the family members are sources of inspiration, even when they officially "declined to comment."
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