After The Intercept approached the National Counterterrorism Center for comment on a story about the government’s terrorist watch list, the agency then alerted the Associated Press to the story, according to the Huffington Post.
The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux reported on Tuesday that nearly half the people in the government’s terrorist suspect database are not linked to terrorist groups. They noted that the database has expanded significantly under the Obama administration.
After the NCC gave the AP a heads up on the story, the outlet ran a short piece reporting that the number of suspects in the database has doubled in the past few years. The AP published just a few minuted before The Intercept’s longer and more detailed story.
The Intercept’s editor, John Cook, approached the NCC about the AP’s story, a source told the Huffington Post.
“That was our bad,” a NCC official reportedly told Cook.
“We had invested some quality time with Eileen,” the official explained, referring to the AP’s Eileen Sullivan, who published the story.
“After seeing you had the docs, and the fact we had been working with Eileen, we did feel compelled to give her a heads up,” the official told The Intercept, according to the Huffington Post. “We thought she would publish after you.”
Scahill said that the NCC fed the scoop to the AP because they were “pissed” The Intercept was running the story.
US government, pissed we were publishing our story, tried to undermine us by leaking it to other news organization right before we published
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) August 5, 2014
Cook reportedly told the NCC that from now on, The Intercept would only give the agency 30 minutes to respond to comment requests before publishing a story.