F.B.I. Memo Listed ABC News Journalist As Informant

Apr 5, 2011, 16:10 by Sarah Long

A previously secret memo reveals that a senior ABC news journalist was listed as an FBI informant after the Oklahoma City Bombing, The Center for Public Integrity reports. 

According to The Center, the memo indicates that the bureau asked the reporter to ascertain the source of a tip that the network had obtained during its early coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing.

The ABC journalist, whose name is not disclosed in the document, not only cooperated with the FBI in the 1995-96 period, but provided the bureau with the identity of a confidential source in what the center calls a possible breach of journalist ethics, USA Today reports.

The journalist passed along information that Iraqi Special Services was behind the bombing and "contracted seven former Afghani freedom fighters out of Pakistan" for the operation, according to CNN.

The memo recounts multiple contacts between the FBI and the journalist over a one-year period but does not name the network insider, instead using the informant number NY290000-SI-DT and a simple description as "a senior official employed by ABC News for over 15 years," The Center reports. 

According to further reports by The Center, the FBI memo suggests the ABC journalist contacted the bureau because the network's information indicated two other bombings were planned at federal offices in Los Angeles and Houston.

News blog Gawker claimed it was former ABC investigative news producer Christopher Isham, now a vice president and Washington bureau chief for CBS News, who was the journalist mentioned in the memo. Isham issued a statement Tuesday evening denying these claims.

"The suggestion that I was an informant for the FBI is outrageous and untrue," Isham said in a statement released by CBS. "Like every investigative reporter, my job for 25 years has been to check out information and tips from sources.  In the heat of the Oklahoma City bombing, it would not be unusual for me or any journalist to run information by a source within the FBI for confirmation or to notify authorities about a pending terrorist attack."

ABC News told the Center for Public Integrity that it is not certain about the identity of the journalist involved in the 1995-96 memo, but does not believe he or she still works for the network. Spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said the FBI description of its interactions with the reporter raises serious concerns about intrusions on the First Amendment.