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Posted: January 11, 2020
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Revealed: Identity of top FBI official who leaked secret information to media

The name of a former top FBI official who leaked sensitive information over the course of hundreds of communications with at least six reporters can be revealed by the Washington Examiner.

His identity is contained in a 21-page report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The report reveals that investigators for Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz determined that Bryan Paarmann, 53, the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s international operations division from 2016 to 2017, “improperly disclosed court-sealed and law enforcement sensitive information to the media” in violation of FBI rules.

The incident is one Horowitz included as part of what his June 2018 report called the FBI’s “culture of unauthorized media contacts.” A one-page summary of the investigation was released last May.

Although most identifying details about the reporters in question and the cases Paarmann was leaking details of were redacted, the Washington Examiner was able to identify one of the reporters in question, Los Angeles Times reporter Del Wilber, and two of his stories that the DOJ’s watchdog alleged contained details leaked by Paarmann.

A West Point graduate and former U.S. Army officer, Paarmann's website features a photograph of him standing next to Mitt Romney, the junior U.S. senator for Utah and the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, and states: "C. Bryan Paarmann FBI is a 30+ year career public servant who has faithfully and honorably served the United States in a variety of different positions." Another page on his site states: "Bryan Paarmann is protective of his country and is a proud American. In many ways, he has faithfully and honorably served his homeland."

Horowitz’s team reviewed Paarmann’s communications from 2012 through 2017, which showed “extensive contacts” with members of the media, especially in 2016 and early 2017, laying out interactions with at least six reporters. These contacts included hundreds of texts, calls, and emails; over a dozen rounds of golf, including one where the reporter paid for both and another where Paarmann did; private drinks and dinners, including instances where investigators couldn’t determine who paid; a media member’s housewarming party where Paarmann brought wine as a gift; and a $225-ticket dinner, which was free of charge thanks to a member of the media, in violation of FBI rules.

Paarmann and Wilber exchanged 55 calls and emails and met for dinner or drinks four times. The watchdog report pointed to a 2016 article citing a “U.S. law enforcement official,” a “counterterrorism official,” and a “law enforcement official,” which, by matching the phrases, is an article by Wilber about Orlando Pulse nightclub mass shooter Omar Mateen. The report cited another 2016 piece that quoted “a federal law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case,” a phrase that appears in a co-authored piece by Wilber and two others on Dallas cop killer Micah Johnson.

Paarmann acknowledged making many improper disclosures when confronted during an interview with the DOJ’s watchdog, telling investigators in one instance: “I may have dorked that one up.”

But, when texts pointed to lengthy phone calls with reporters regarding investigations but didn’t explicitly show what the conversations were about, he denied leaking. Horowitz’s team didn’t believe Paarmann, saying his demonstrated willingness to divulge sensitive information to these reporters, his knowledge of the cases they were writing about, and his failure to report his media contacts to the FBI made it “more likely than not that Paarmann violated FBI policy by providing law enforcement sensitive information to these reporters.”

Paarmann claimed to investigators that a member of the FBI’s office of public affairs instructed him to “develop friendly cordial relations with the media so that it wasn’t adversarial every time we talked to them and basically be able to educate them.” But the public affairs employee denied this. “I don’t remember giving any type of explicit or implicit guidance to go out and do anything independent of the office of public affairs,” the employee said. “Especially socially.”

The DOJ decided not to prosecute Paarmann. The FBI declined the Washington Examiner's request for comment. Wilber declined to comment.


FBI Director Christopher Wray moved Paarmann into running the FBI’s counterterrorism operations in NYC in 2017, but he has since retired.






via Washington Examiner https://ift.tt/2FG8Pud

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