Now a recent report from the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity claims the FBI treated a senior ABC News journalist as an informant and prodded him to reveal the confidential source of an uncorroborated tip.
According to an FBI memo, the journalist “advised that a source within the Saudi Arabian Intelligence Service advised that the Oklahoma City bombing was sponsored by the Iraqi Special Services who contracted seven former Afghani Freedom Fighters out of Pakistan.”
The information of the Iraqi connection, which never materialized, was provided the night of the bombing. The journalist contacted a counterterrorism agent because intelligence suggested “there were two other bombing incidents planned” soon in Los Angeles and Houston, according to the memo. When contacted by the FBI a year later, the journalist also revealed the tip’s source as former CIA officer Vincent Cannistraro, a contracted consultant with ABC. Cannistraro confirmed that he learned the intel from a “general within the Saudi Arabian Intelligence Service,” according to the memo.
Gawker revealed the ABC journalist as Christopher Isham, currently a vice president at CBS News and Washington bureau chief for the network. Meanwhile, Isham released the following statement:
“The suggestion that I was an informant for the FBI is outrageous and untrue,” Isham said. “Like every investigative reporter, my job for 25 years has been to check out information and tips from sources. In the heat of the Oklahoma City bombing, it would not be unusual for me or any journalist to run information by a source within the FBI for confirmation or to notify authorities about a pending terrorist attack. This is consistent with the policies at every news organization. But at no time did I compromise a confidential source with the FBI or anyone else. Mr.
Cannistraro was not a confidential source, but rather a colleague — a paid consultant to ABC News who had already spoken to the FBI about information he had received.”
As for Cannistraro, he expressed surprise “that an ABC journalist had contacted the FBI and relayed the information, in part because it had not been corroborated and was just a rumor passing through Saudi circles,” the center reported. Since Cannistraro had already informed the FBI on his own, he said he wasn’t concerned about being “outed.”