Tuesday, May 14, 2013


As you probably know, the Justice Department's seizure of phone records in a probe of the Associated Press was in response to a May 2012 AP story that revealed the existence of a second underwear bomb plot, based in Yemen. The leak to which Justice was responding was blamed by some on John Brennan:
The government would not say why it sought the records. Officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP's source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."
(That May 2012 story is here.)

So there was a leak, and John Brennan was susected of being the leaker. But at the time, according to Mark Hosenball of Reuters, Brennan (then the top White House counterterrorism adviser) responded to the leak by apparently leaking more information:
White House efforts to soft-pedal the danger from a new "underwear bomb" plot emanating from Yemen may have inadvertently broken the news they needed most to contain.

At about 5:45 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 7, just before the evening newscasts, John Brennan, President Barack Obama's top White House adviser on counter-terrorism, held a small, private teleconference to brief former counter-terrorism advisers who have become frequent commentators on TV news shows.

According to five people familiar with the call, Brennan stressed that the plot was never a threat to the U.S. public or air safety because Washington had "inside control" over it.

Brennan's comment appears unintentionally to have helped lead to disclosure of the secret at the heart of a joint U.S.-British-Saudi undercover counter-terrorism operation....
Richard Clarke, who was one of the people briefed, went on to tell the press that our side had someone inside the plot. And as a result, according to Hosenball, the operation had to be shut down prematurely.

What's disturbing about this is that it fits into the right-wing narrative about the White House attitude toward news involving Al Qaeda. The White House was saying that there were no plots to fear around the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. But then AP revealed that there was a plot. And then Brennan, according to Hosenball, got the word out the plot was nothing to worry about because the U.S. and Brits and Saudis had a guy in on it, so it could never actually go forward. So relax, America. Al Qaeda won't hurt you.

This is what the right says the Benghazi aftermath was about: sending the message that Al Qaeda is neutralized -- in an election year.

Is that what was going on? If so, it was nuts. President Obama didn't have to worry that anyone (except insane right-wingers) was going to see him as a sandal-wearing peacenik. He'd ordered bin Laden killed. He was overseeing frequent drone strikes. And -- see the poll results I cited over the weekend -- the public doesn't expect 100% security from terrorism. The public expects terrorists to ind a way through our defenses at times. People just want to the government to work hard at preventing attacks. Obama had that covered, in the public's eyes.

So if the government -- or certain specific people in it -- wanted to control the narrative to make it seem as if Al Qaeda was not a threat at all, the process squandered moral authority for nothing.


Unknown said...

The GOP narrative seems extremely dubious for the reasons you close with. Perhaps they were trying to make the plotters and their handlers think we were complacent...?

Victor said...

Whether there is or isn't anything to this story is immaterial - the Republicans are searching for new poo, because their Benghazi poo hasn't yet successfully stuck to Obama and Clinton.

Like the IRS story, I'm going to try to sit back, and see what's really up.

Too bad our MSM folks won't be doing that.
Or every trying to find out what's really up, which is, uhm... you know... kinda sorta supposed to be their job.
Instead, they're ready to opine when they really don't have enough information to form a credible opinion - but are too lazy to do the work necessary to find things out to do so. And so, to fill air-time, need to give opinions.

"Nice catch, that 'Catch 22.'"

Unknown said...

Ya. The entire MSM continues its slide into irrelevancy. I just saw a post by glen kessler at the wapo giving obama a bunch of pinocchios after parsing "act of terror" vs "act of terrorism."

How many hundreds of $K does he get for that?

Ten Bears said...

Brennan didn't make it "public". Clarke, whom 1) Brennan apparently thought trustworthy, 2) touting his resume` as he does should damned well know better and 3) is of course a multi millionaire mainstream media personality, one of the Kool-Aid Klan.

This is the PNAC dogs Valerie Plame moment. Only, it's not.

No fear.