On Tuesday, the Intercept, the website started by reporter Glenn Greenwald and Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar earlier this year, posted a story based on leaked government documents that detailed the composition of the U.S. terrorism watchlist. However, a few minutes before the Intercept’s story went live, the Associated Press published its own story about the list. According to the Huffington Post, the National Counterterrorism Center admitted to the Intercept that it fed the story to the AP, which gave the watchlist what HuffPo described as a far “friendlier” treatment.
Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim said he spoke to “a source” who described a conference call about the incident that the Intercept had with the National Counterterrorism Center after both stories were published. The source reportedly told Grim the agency described its decision to give another outlet a story about the list after being contacted by the Intercept as being based on the fact officials “invested some quality time” working with AP reporter Eileen Sullivan. Additionally, the source said the agency told the Intercept, which has focused on publishing stories based on leaked government documents, that it did not believe the site would engage in a “back-and-forth” about redacting information from the story.
AP’s story was a simple writeup of the list that noted its size and several general facts. The Intercept’s story focused on the fact many people on the list “are not connected to any known terrorist group.”
According to the Huffington Post, Intercept editor John Cook told the National Counterterrorism Center they would only be given 30 minutes to comment on the site’s stories in the future. Greenwald, who told Business Insider he planned to publish more stories based on leaked documents on Tuesday, took to Twitter to post several messages criticising the agency. In one, he accused the National Counterterrorism Center of abusing and exploiting standard protocols for engaging with the media.
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