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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