The Intercept FOIA requests to the CIA sought communications between the agency and ten national security reporters sent from March to July 2012. That request turned up hundreds of pages of email correspondence between the press office and Ken Dilanian, then at The Los Angeles Times and now at the AP, Adam Goldman, then at the AP and now at The Washington Post, Matt Apuzzo, then at AP and now at The New York Times, Brian Bennett of The Los Angeles Times, Siobhan Gorman of The Wall Street Journal, Scott Shane of the New York Times, and David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist.
In addition to Dilanian’s deferential relationship with the CIA’s press handlers, the documents show that the agency regularly invites journalists to its McLean, Va., headquarters for briefings and other events. Reporters who have addressed the CIA include the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius, the former ombudsmen for the New York Times, NPR, and Washington Post, and Fox News’ Brett Baier, Juan Williams, and Catherine Herridge.
It’s impossible to know precisely how the CIA flacks responded to reporters’ queries, because the emails show only one side of the conversations. The CIA redacted virtually all of the press handlers’ replies other than meager comments that were made explicitly on the record, citing the CIA Act of 1949, which exempts the agency from having to disclose “intelligence sources and methods” or “the organization, functions, names, official titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed by the Agency.” The contents of off-the-record or background emails from CIA press handlers clearly don’t disclose names, titles, or salaries (which can easily be redacted anyway); they may disclose sources and methods, depending on whether you view manipulation of American reporters as an intelligence method. (The Intercept is appealing the redactions.)