Ex-FBI agent pleads guilty to terror leak

Updated
A view of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in a May 3, 2013, file photo in Washington, DC.
A view of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in a May 3, 2013, file photo in Washington, DC.
Brenden Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

A former FBI bomb expert has pled guilty in the most recent leak prosecution brought forth by the Obama administration. Donald Sachtleben, who served in the FBI for 25 years before leaving to work as an independent contractor, has admitted to leaking classified information to the Associated Press regarding a failed AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) bomb plot.

“I am deeply sorry for my actions,” said Sachtleben in a statement. “While I never intended harm to the United States or to any individuals, I do not make excuses for myself. I understand and accept that today’s filings start the process of paying the full consequences of my misconduct, and I know that the justice system I once served so proudly will have its say.”

Investigators only identified Sachtleben as a suspect after they obtained phone records related to the Associated Press reporter who received the leaked information, according to the Justice Department. The AP revealed in May that the DOJ had secretly subpoenaed two months’ worth of its phone records, setting off outrage in the media that slammed the action as a violation of its First Amendment rights.

Sachtleben signed off on the government’s charges against him, and in doing so, he admitted that he was not a whistleblower because his leak did not expose “government waste, fraud, abuse, or any other kind of government malfeasance of misfeasance.”

The leak occurred just nine days before Sachtleben was arrested on charges of child pornography distribution, as part of a separate investigation. He has also pled guilty to those charges. The plea includes a 43-month prison term for his leak, as well a 97-month sentence for the pornography charges.

The Justice Department’s case against Sachtleben marks the eighth time the Obama administration has prosecuted someone for allegedly leaking classified materials. Before the current administration, there had been a total of three leak prosecutions in all of U.S. history.

Sachtleben’s guilty plea comes about one month after Pfc. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for conducting the single largest leak of classified materials in U.S. history.

The Associated Press has said it does not comment on its sources.

Ex-FBI agent pleads guilty to terror leak

Updated