Washington Post gave administration 'abundant time' before publishing Benghazi scoop

The Washington Post held for one day its scoop about U.S. Special Operations forces capturing Ahmed Abu Khattala this past weekend.

Khattala is one of the suspected leaders of the 2012 attack on a U.S. temporary office in Benghazi, Libya. "The Washington Post learned about the capture Monday but agreed to a request from the White House to delay publication of a story because of security concerns," Karen DeYoung, Adam Goldman and Julie Tate write.

Reached by email, Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said, "We had all the information necessary for publication, and we had given the administration abundant time to address its security concerns."

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed Khattala's capture in a press release Tuesday.

Fox News published a less comprehensive version of the story, which it labeled an "exclusive," at the same time the Post's story went up, 11:19 a.m., according to Fox's RSS feed. ABC News reported a short story that it published at 11:40. Neither story mentioned pressure from the government to hold publication.

Michael Calderone reported in 2012 that Khattala, despite being reportedly "at large," was giving "lengthy interviews with reporters out in the open."

CIA officials asked the Associated Press in 2012 to hold a story about a thwarted bombing for five days, then asked it for one more day because "the Obama administration was planning to announce the successful counterterrorism operation" the next day, Tate and Carol D. Leonnig reported last year.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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