Fox & Friends co-hosts highlighted Sen. Kit Bond's (R-MO) allegation that it was wrong to disclose that Northwest Airlines bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was now cooperating with the investigation because, according to Bond, FBI officials, including director Robert Mueller, instructed members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that “keeping the fact of his cooperation quiet was vital to preventing future attacks against the United States.” But Fox & Friends ignored its own organization's reporting that Senate Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and law enforcement officials have disputed Bond's accusations.
Fox & Friends highlights Bond criticism of intel disclosure without noting his account is disputed
From the February 5 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Yeah, I think that they're revealing the names. I know Kit Bond found out in a private briefing. He is the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He talked to the FBI director, Bob Mueller, and he personally stressed it -- Bob Mueller -- to keep the fact that this guy has begun -- just begun to cooperate since January 4. The fact that he was talking about cooperating in terms of future attacks coming down the line. He is cooperating, to keep it down. But, yet, Senator Kit Bond went forward and criticized the administration for reading him his Miranda rights and letting him get lawyered up.
So Robert Gibbs in turn said, you better apologize, Senator Kit Bond. Kit Bond says, no way. What I was criticizing -- what I was criticizing was the fact not that he's talking now -- I was going to keep that quiet. He goes, I'm criticizing the fact that we wasted five weeks before you flew over, talked to his family, flew them back, and got them to get him to talk.
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): The way I understood this whole controversy was that Kit Bond was told by Robert Mueller to not release any of this sensitive --
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Because it was classified.
CARLSON: -- information of what was going on, what the underwear bomber was talking about, because, he says -- Bond says -- that it was stressed to him that the FBI director, Bob Mueller -- here it is right here -- “FBI director Bob Mueller personally stressed to me that keeping the fact of his cooperation quiet” -- the underwear bomber -- “was vital to preventing future attacks against the United States.”
Well, then apparently what happened is during that hearing they exposed it all, and they said, in fact, that he was cooperating, and that made Kit Bond angry. Because he said, look, I thought we weren't supposed to tell anyone. And that's going to get a ton of people talking, like we were yesterday, about whether or not this is being politicized. Did the administration on purpose expose that information so that they look better in this whole mess that we've gotten ourselves into about Mirandizing this guy?
Fox News.com: Feinstein said “at no time” during Senate intel briefing “did Mueller say that Abdulmutallab's cooperation was not to be revealed”
Bond claimed the FBI “stressed the importance of not disclosing the fact of his cooperation” in private Senate intel briefing and in separate conversation. Bond sent a letter to President Obama on February 4, claiming:
I am deeply disturbed with the official handling of vital national security information regarding the recent cooperation by the Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab. On Monday afternoon, the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee received notification from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concerning Abdulmutallab's recent willingness to provide critical information. FBI officials stressed the importance of not disclosing the fact of his cooperation in order to protect on-going and follow-on operations to neutralize additional threats to the American public; FBI Director Bob Mueller personally stressed to me that keeping the fact of his cooperation quiet was vital to preventing future attacks against the United States. Handling this information in such a sensitive manner struck me as entirely appropriate.
FoxNews.com: Bond was not at the Senate intel briefing, and Feinstein said “at no time” was disclosing Abdulmutallab's cooperation prohibited. A February 4 FoxNews.com article about Bond's criticism noted, “Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein added later that at no time in the briefing did Mueller say that Abdulmutallab's cooperation was not to be revealed,” and that “Bond, however, did not attend Monday's briefing, but spoke separately with Mueller.”
Fox News: Law enforcement sources say “Mueller was warning” Bond “that new information about Abdulmutallab could become public”
Fox News' Herridge: “Two law enforcement officials” say “Mueller was warning the senator that new information about Abdulmutallab could become public.” On the February 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News national correspondent Catherine Herridge reported that "[t]wo law enforcement officials dispute Bond's characterization of the phone call with the FBI director. They claim Mueller was warning the senator that new information about Abdulmutallab could become public. The senator says others weren't on that call, he was, and he knows what happened." From the February 4 edition of Special Report:
HERRIDGE: Mueller said nothing more in the public session about the substance of the new interrogations. Yet, two hours later, reporters were called to the White House -- a short notice -- for an extensive readout where they were told the suspect's Nigerian family was in the U.S. and helping the FBI. Senator Bond responded late today.
BOND [video clip]: First, after telling me to keep my mouth shut, the White House went and disclosed sensitive information very helpful to the terrorists in order to justify and defend a very, very unpopular and, I think, unwise decision to Mirandize Abdulmutallab.
HERRIDGE: Two law enforcement officials dispute Bond's characterization of the phone call with the FBI director. They claim Mueller was warning the senator that new information about Abdulmutallab could become public. The senator says others weren't on that call, he was, and he knows what happened.
And the White House says the senator made misleading comments in that hearing on Tuesday, because he knew at the time that Abdulmutallab was cooperating again. The senator says he is, quote, “stunned” by these claims.