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U.S. General: 2015 lead on ISIS leader al-Baghdadi “went dead” after NY Times leak

U.S. General: 2015 lead on ISIS leader al-Baghdadi “went dead” after NY Times leak

Pattern of media publishing sensitive intelligence information has accelerate recently to undermine Trump administration.

The NY Times, The Washington Post and other major news media have been in a stiff competition to leak sensitive intelligence operational information in order to harm Donald Trump and his administration. Among other things, there have been repeated supposed intelligence community leaks disclosing the ability of U.S. intelligence to monitor conversations of the Russian ambassador with his superiors back in Russia.

This is a pattern.

When Trump had a White House meeting with the Russian ambassador, The NY Times was quick to publish that sensitive intelligence information shared with the Russians about ISIS terror threats to airplanes came from Israel. There is no evidence Trump disclosed Israel as the source. ABC News was quick to claim that Israel has penetrated ISIS’s inner circle, either through a mole or electronic means, or both. There is no evidence that Trump disclosed that to the Russians, and he certainly didn’t disclose it publicly. The NY Times did that, as did other news outlets. We don’t know if that media disclosure was true, but if it were, then the media provided ISIS with the information necessary to plug the leak.

This isn’t the first time, and the NY Times indiscretion predated Trump. In 2015 the Times disclosed that the U.S. had obtained important information as to how ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi operated and avoided tracking.

U.S. General Tony Thomas just blamed the Times disclosure for helping al-Baghdadi escape targeting. Fox News’ Catherine Herridge reports, ISIS broken, but leader slipped away due to leak, says key general:

ISIS in Iraq and Syria has been “dismantled,” with tens of thousands of its jihadist fighters dead, but a promising lead on its leader “went dead” after a media leak, according to a key U.S. military official.

“We have absolutely dismantled his network,” Gen. Tony Thomas, speaking of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, said at the Aspen Security Forum. “I mean everyone who worked for him initially is dead or gone. Everybody who stepped to the plate the next time [is] dead or gone. Down through a network where we have killed, in a conservative estimate, 60,000 to 70,000 of his followers, his army.”

In a wide-ranging interview moderated by Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Thomas, who leads the Special Operations Command, said his team was “particularly close” to Baghdadi after the 2015 raid that killed ISIS oil minister Abu Sayyaf. That raid also netted his wife, who provided a wealth of actionable information.

“That was a very good lead. Unfortunately, it was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead,” Thomas said. “The challenge we have [is] in terms of where and how our tactics and procedures are discussed openly. There’s a great need to inform the American public about what we’re up to. There’s also great need to recognize things that will absolutely undercut our ability to do our job.”

Herridge points out that Gen. Thomas appears to be referring to a June 8, 2015, Times article, A Raid on ISIS Yields a Trove of Intelligence:

American intelligence agencies have extracted valuable information about the Islamic State’s leadership structure, financial operations and security measures by analyzing materials seized during a Delta Force commando raid last month that killed a leader of the terrorist group in eastern Syria, according to United States officials.

The information harvested from the laptops, cellphones and other materials recovered from the raid on May 16 has already helped the United States identify, locate and carry out an airstrike against another Islamic State leader in eastern Syria, on May 31. American officials expressed confidence that an influential lieutenant, Abu Hamid, was killed in the attack, but the Islamic State, which remains resilient, has not yet confirmed his death.

New insights yielded by the seized trove — four to seven terabytes of data, according to one official — include how the organization’s shadowy leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, operates and tries to avoid being tracked by coalition forces.

Trump jumped on Gen. Thomas’ comments to attack the NY Times:

The Washington Post, reporting on Trump’s tweet, claimed complete ignorance as to why Trump would tweet that:

In yet another tweet, Trump attacked the Times for reports that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose death in a Russian airstrike had been speculated last month, is still alive, according to Pentagon officials. It is not clear why the president holds the Times responsible.

So where is al-Baghdadi now? There were numerous recent reports that he was killed, just as there had been reports in the past. But General James Mattis says there is no proof of his death and believes his is alive.

UPDATE: The Times has demanded an “apology” from Fox News, but the Times demand does not actually contradict the Fox News report (the Times also claims the General was “misleading”). The Times points to a prior statement from the Pentagon about the raid, but that statement, as least as quoted by the Times in its statement, does not give all the details of the Times news report, specifically as to the value of the intelligence gained in tracking al-Baghdadi.

But a review of the record shows that information made public in a Pentagon news release more than three weeks before the Times article, and extensively covered at the time by numerous news media outlets, would have tipped off Mr. Baghdadi that the United States was questioning an important Islamic State operative who knew of his recent whereabouts and some of his methods of communication. Further, the information in the Times article on June 8 came from United States government officials who were aware that the details would be published.

Additionally, there is nothing inconsistent with the Pentagon having offered that statement AND The Times publication of additional information having alerted al-Baghdadi that he was being tracked and his trail later going “dead.”


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The NYT, WaPo et al. decapitated granny.

“The failing NEW YORK TIMES…with which I spent a happy hour or two trashing my own Attorney General, and one my first and most important supporters…”

This is just beeeeeeezare.

    YellowSnake in reply to Ragspierre. | July 22, 2017 at 11:40 am

    And the NYTimes sabotaged us just as we were about to WIN the Vietnam War. According to a general with no axe to grind, we were just about to capture Ho Chi Ming and replace him with our double when the nefarious, unpatriotic and traitorous NYTimes published the plan.

    Nitpick. How else to reach people that read the NYT, who likely never read what he says unless filtered by bias, but who need to. .

    It’s beyond bizarre, Rags, it’s kind of dumb. The Trump train is about as wide and deep as the Elizabeth Warren train, and Sessions’ support and eventual AG post went a long way toward making Trump palatable.

    The most bizarre thing of all is that Sessions has a decades’ long history of being a “by the book” type, so why did Trump even put him in the job if he didn’t want a straight arrow? (The obvious answer is that he has no principles so doesn’t expect them in others.)

    On a side but related note, I am sickened by the Scaramucci pick to replace Spicer. The very sight of him (Scaramucci) makes my skin crawl; he is repellent, snaky, and vile. Shudder.

    Trump is surrounding himself with vile people who have no idea how to communicate or even why communication is important. It’s one thing to be a firebrand and forge a path, and quite another to line that path with and to insulate oneself behind a wall of shrill, thuggish, smarmy New Yorker bully bois who turn stomachs on sight.

    The Sessions thing really worries me; moves like that will do what the media and Democrats never can and turn reluctant-but-hopeful Trump voters off . . . and in a big way.

The NY Times, The Washington Post and other major news media have been in a stiff competition to leak sensitive intelligence operational information in order to harm Donald Trump and his administration.

They either don’t know, or don’t care, that by doing this they could also put Americans in harm’s way.

I would lean toward the latter.

It’s fine to bash the NYT for publishing sensitive information, but this leak didn’t come solely from the media. It came from inside the intel community. Trumps front line is pulling their blocks and letting the linebackers through.

    YellowSnake in reply to oldav8r. | July 22, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Besides, if the media could figure out that the intelligence came from the Israeli’s, couldn’t the Russians?

    Someone in intelligence was clearly pissed that an ignorant Trump had disclosed sensitive information to the Russians that would allowed them to infer our sources and methods. Sure, blame the Times!

      4th armored div in reply to YellowSnake. | July 22, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Yellow bellied Snake
      fixed that for you

      where in the leaker train do you piss ?

        YellowSnake in reply to 4th armored div. | July 22, 2017 at 1:18 pm

        r u capable of rational thought? Insult me as you wish. It just makes me feel sorry for you. At least some of your fellow travelers can manage a rebuttal.

        I think I will just ignore you in the future. It is a safe assumption that everyone else does, too

      Milhouse in reply to YellowSnake. | July 23, 2017 at 12:17 am

      The media didn’t figure it out. Some traitor told them. A traitor who was upset that Trump decided that warning Putin about a terrorist threat to Russian planes was more important than hoarding information and protecting American sources, a decision that was entirely Trump’s to make. In sum, a traitor who refuses to acknowledge that Trump is his lawful employer, to whom he owes his loyalty, and all the information he and his colleagues collect belongs to Trump to do with as he chooses, and not to them.

    Ragspierre in reply to oldav8r. | July 22, 2017 at 10:35 pm


    back to reality.

    This leak occurred in 2015, during the reign of Barracula. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Der Donald (or there is absolutely nothing to indicate it did).

    Some decades ago, PBS used to broadcast a series of panel discussions moderated by a law professor who’s name I (typically) can’t recall. One in particular involved the press, the military, and the tension between reporting and keeping mum.

    One of the journalists made a statement the I remember being something like, “Reporters don’t have a nationality”, which I found extremely, EXTREMELY enlightening. I’ve never had reason to doubt it since as a working concept. There are, of course, exceptions. But the rules still holds.

inspectorudy | July 22, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Is these actions by the nyt a surprise to anyone here? hillary and the left in general, have no love or concern for America. It is their agenda and their power that motivates them. The choice to harm Trump or not harm America is not even close to being a 50/50 choice.

Treason, over time to be held accountable. Shut them down!

    YellowSnake in reply to gonzotx. | July 22, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Nixon tried after the Pentagon Papers.

    We don’t need no stinkin’ 1st Amendment; only the 2nd Amendment was ordained by god.

You all need to realize that the NYT betrayed the country during Tyrant Obama the Liar’s reign in 2015.

    YellowSnake in reply to ConradCA. | July 22, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    A tyrant who peacefully turned over power to an opponent at the lawful end of his term?

    If he was such a tyrant, why aren’t you dead?

    YellowSnake in reply to ConradCA. | July 23, 2017 at 12:35 am

    Talk about a tyrant. Trump asserts he can pardon himself. That means he claims to be accountable to NO ONE. That is the very definition of a would-be tyrant.

    Did Obama ever make such a claim?

      Milhouse in reply to YellowSnake. | July 23, 2017 at 3:32 am

      Every president can pardon himself. That’s not surprising to anyone who’s read the constitution. Plenary means plenary. 0bama may not have tweeted it, but he was certainly conscious of it.

      Ragspierre in reply to YellowSnake. | July 23, 2017 at 9:39 am

      That’s silly. He’s accountable on several levels, including some that are subtle and informal.

      No POTUS can pardon him/herself if impeached and convicted. I do believe that the POTUS cannot pardon him/herself respecting state law violations, but that’s from memory.

        Milhouse in reply to Ragspierre. | July 23, 2017 at 10:57 am

        1. Once impeached and convicted he’s no longer president and can’t pardon anything. But a minute before the senate votes his pardon power is still plenary.

        2. Pardons by definition extend only to criminal offenses, not to torts or political offenses, so he can no more stave off any official’s removal by impeachment — including his own — than he can get someone — again including himself — out of a cell phone contract.

        3. He can no more pardon anyone for offenses against state law than he can pardon them for offenses against foreign law, or than a state or foreign governor can pardon offenses against USA law. He isn’t the president of the state or country against which the offense was committed.

YellowSnake | July 22, 2017 at 1:01 pm

In June 2006 we killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; the leader of the organization that became ISIS. Killing the leader clearly did not kill the organization. In fact the organization became, much, much more dangerous.

The French killed the leaders of the Algerian revolt and 2 years later they were driven from Algeria.

Does anyone think that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi didn’t notice that his closest associates were being regularly killed and that they had huge amounts of digital data that could have been captured? Wouldn’t he have changed up his methods to a degree that the information the Times published would have been known to him or no longer operative?

To quote the Times “The Pentagon raised no objections with The Times before the story was published, and no senior American official ever complained publicly about it until now.”

    Are you suggesting that we throw them a party?

    Maybe the NYT should announce it?

    How many times do you need to make your point?

      YellowSnake in reply to oldschooltwentysix. | July 22, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      They say that is someone fools you once, it is shame on him. If you are fooled again, it is shame on you.

      Apparently you can be fooled by indigenous guerrilla movements every time. Oh, oh, oh if only we hadn’t been betrayed, we would have won in ………….. (fill in the blank)

      I’ll bet the world also treats you unfairly, too. Poor boy!

    Ragspierre in reply to YellowSnake. | July 22, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Your thesis here seems to be that there is no benefit to killing the leaders of a movement. In fact, what you suggest is the movement just gets stronger.

    That is batshit crazy. If you can’t think of any examples where killing off the leadership of a movement crippled the movement (or would have crippled it), you are blind.

    Milhouse in reply to YellowSnake. | July 23, 2017 at 3:41 am

    He didn’t “change up his methods” until the NYT published it. Post hoc doesn’t necessarily mean propter hoc, but it certainly suggests it. The real question is whether we can be sure he would have changed anyway, and the answer is we can’t, so the NYT editors had no business publishing it. They wouldn’t accept that sort of excuse from anyone else, so we shouldn’t accept it from them.

Sam in Texas | July 22, 2017 at 1:04 pm

“But General James Mattis says there is no proof of his death and believes his is alive.”

It’s like killing a mosquito inside the house. It isn’t dead until you see the carcass.

    YellowSnake in reply to Sam in Texas. | July 22, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    A lot of people on this very site believe in things they cannot see.

    Of course, when they are confronted by something they can see but don’t wish to, they can demand your standard of proof. That is important because if you seal your home with screens and fumigate, you might never see the dead mosquito. But that mosquito is dead.

I don’t expect much from the MSM media. They are libs who find it easy to leak, regardless of (or because of?) the damage it causes the US and its allies.
I would expect however, for these generals and administration to get off their rear ends and track down the leakers, who are the criminals in these occurrences.
Lock up a few of these slimeball leakers and there will be a reduction in leaks.