“The Yemeni situation and … the Iranian cyber situation”

As MadDog noted yesterday, Dianne Feinstein seemed to answer a question I’ve written about here and here regarding the scope of the leak investigations.

She said the U.S. attorneys would not face political pressures from the Obama administration and would “call the shots as they see them.”

“We can move ahead much more rapidly,” Feinstein said. “Instead of one special prosecutor, you essentially have two here, one is the Yemeni situation and the other is the Iranian cyber situation. I think you’re going to get there much quicker.”

I’m not sure I agree with MD, though, that “the UndieBomb 2.0 and the Stuxnet leaks are the ones being investigated,” meaning implicitly that just those two “leaks” are being investigated.

DiFi’s quote seems to confirm that there is a distinct investigation into the source of the detail (one of the only new parts of David Sanger’s StuxNet reporting) that Israel let StuxNet free, possibly deliberately. Since Eric Holder suggested there was a jurisdictional component to his choice of US Attorneys on these investigations, we can assume that Rod Rosenstein, US Attorney for the National Security Agency, will investigate that alleged leak.

But what does DiFi include when she says, “the Yemeni situation”? Does it include only the leaks about UndieBomb 2.0? And if so, why isn’t it being investigated out of Eastern District of VA, the CIA’s US Attorney district, which purportedly had a lead on that operation in the US?

Further, MD suggested (though did not say explicitly) this means they’re not investigating the drone targeting leaks.

Now, as I’ve noted, one possible reason they wouldn’t investigate the drone targeting “leaks” would be if the stories reported falsehoods or–more charitably–a drone targeting process that was no longer in place, as the AP has reported to be the case and the White House, in their response to the AP story, seemed to confirm. That is, one possible reason why they wouldn’t investigate the “leaks” about drone targeting would be because those stories did not report accurate classified information (and I’ll remind here that the Klaidman story differs in some notable ways from the Joby Warrick story, which we now know came in part from Rahm Emanuel’s effort to publicize Baitullah Mehsud’s killing).

But there’s another possibility. I’m struck by DiFi’s description of “the Yemeni situation” rather than–as most people refer to it–the “thwarted” bomb “plot.” It’s possible that in DiFi’s mind–the mind of a Gang of Four member who has presumably been briefed on our ongoing operations in Yemen–that the leak of the bomb sting, the leak of the Saudi role in it, and the stories that made it clear that John Brennan is running a secret war against Yemeni insurgents using signature strikes out of the NSC largely at the behest of the Saudis all constitute for her “the Yemeni situation.” UndieBomb 2.0 is a part of that secret war–perhaps the legal justification for US involvement in it (and also a useful way to remove an asset and a key handler before the drones start wreaking havoc). But if this speculation is right, it may well be the other details–the report that this war is being run out of NSC, the details that make it clear we’re targeting insurgents, not just AQAP, the fact that we’re clearly in an undeclared war–that DiFi worries about most.

Mind you, this is all supposition. It may be that DiFi was just using shorthand for the UndieBomb 2.0 plot. But to a great degree, all the stories about drone targeting were efforts to expose–and then cover up–the war we’re engaging in Yemen. And that does seem like a secret the Administration is trying to prevent the American public from learning about.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

16 replies
  1. EH says:

    I continue to be amazed that anybody considers Stuxnet getting released “accidentally” to be anything other than a bald-faced joke.

  2. Gitcheegumee says:

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to know just which bank(s) of choice are used by Mr.Adelson’s casinos??

  3. MadDog says:

    “…Further, MD suggested (though did not say explicitly) this means they’re not investigating the drone targeting leaks…”

    In my comment of last evening about DiFi’s confirmation of the 2 leak investigations, you are correct EW. I didn’t then explicitly exclude the Kill List leak.

    However, I had done so here on previous occasions recently.

    In this post of your’s today however, I think you’ve posited a neat way that one could combine the UndieBomb 2.0 leak with the Kill List leak, and I take my hat off to you!

    It may well be that DiFi’s reference to an investigation regarding the “Yemeni situation” is wider than just UndieBomb 2.0 leak from the AP, and encompasses Blabbermouth Brennan more broadly.

    “…But if this speculation is right, it may well be the other details–the report that this war is being run out of NSC, the details that make it clear we’re targeting insurgents, not just AQAP, the fact that we’re clearly in an undeclared war–that DiFi worries about most…”

    In this passage EW, are you suggesting that with an NSC, and explicitly a White House address, that Congressional notification requirements are deliberately being subverted?

    If so, I think you may well be onto something here too.

    Though I had previously commented on the fact that both heads of the Congressional Intelligence committees (DiFi and Rogers) admitted that they had not received prior notification from the CIA of the UndieBomb 2.0 operation, at the time, I had put that down to the possibility that the CIA would claim, perhaps with some justification, that it wasn’t really a CIA operation.

    Instead it was run by the Saudis and the Brits, and that the CIA was merely a 3rd party benefiting from an operation run by others.

    However, with your theory EW of wider Congressional bi-partisan concern about a secretive NSC running far more stuff off the books without Congressional notification and approval, this too fits in the distinct possibility category.

  4. MadDog says:

    @Gitcheegumee: Heh, did you mean to make this comment on the Adelson post?

    With all the half-dozen EW post tabs that I keep open at the same time, commenting on the wrong post happens to me all the time, but I mostly catch myself before I post the comment.

  5. Gitcheegumee says:

    @MadDog:

    Thanks,Mad Dog. I guess my reflexes aren’t as quick as yours.”G”.

    And,btw, my bet is that the casino money is going to Bank Leumi.

    Might be worth reviewing Bank Leumi and Bernie Madoff,also Bank Leumi and Ezra Merkin–remember the Chrysler bailout??

  6. Gitcheegumee says:

    @MadDog:

    “Instead it was run by the Saudis and the Brits, and that the CIA was merely a 3rd party benefiting from an operation run by others.” Mad Dog

    Whenever I see Saudis and Brits mentioned together I always think of BAE and Al Yamamah.

    Here’s a new twist:

    Blackwater/Xe’s BAE connection | timshorrock.com
    Blackwater, the notorious mercenary company now known as “Xe,” has a new Chief Operating Officer (COO) – Charles (Chuck) Thomas, formerly of the British-owned …
    timshorrock.com/?p=1394 – Cached

    Note: A most provocative and informative piece from Shorrock.

    .

  7. MadDog says:

    @Gitcheegumee: In view of the dominance of the US’s role as the Saudi’s paid mercenary, many often forget our Brit buddies play the Supporting Actor role.

  8. Gitcheegumee says:

    @MadDog:

    Speaking of forgetting,or possibly remembering,anyone recall the special thread Marcy hosted with Tim Shorrock a year or so ago?

    BTW,BAE is/was/has a huge,recent building footprint in the Potomac area,IIRC.

  9. MadDog says:

    “…Since Eric Holder suggested there was a jurisdictional component to his choice of US Attorneys on these investigations, we can assume that Rod Rosenstein, US Attorney for the National Security Agency, will investigate that alleged leak.

    But what does DiFi include when she says, “the Yemeni situation”? Does it include only the leaks about UndieBomb 2.0? And if so, why isn’t it being investigated out of Eastern District of VA, the CIA’s US Attorney district, which purportedly had a lead on that operation in the US?…”

    Something that probably already occurred to you EW is that perhaps the Eastern District of VA was deliberately excluded because of jurisdictional issues. By that I mean “conflict of interest”.

    Since as you say, the Eastern District of VA is “the CIA’s US Attorney district”, it may be that AG Holder decided that “the CIA’s US Attorney” shouldn’t be investigating itself or the folks it represents.

    The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) located in McLean, Virginia is a likely place for classified information leaked about the UndieBomb 2.0 operation, as is the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center located in the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

  10. emptywheel says:

    @MadDog: Wow, I overlooked that bit abt DiFi being uninformed.

    It would also explain why this is a DC investigation rather than an EDVA one. It’s hard to overstate how seriously they try to keep CIA investigations in EDVA, so much so that Fitz I BELIEVE was working out of EDVA technically for his Kiriakou investigation.

  11. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: DiFi being uninformed by the CIA would certainly add to her umbrage and support for the leak investigations.

    Add the fact that Blabbermouth Brennan & NSC Co. in the White House kept her out of the loop too and you get one pissed off DiFi.

  12. Gitcheegumee says:

    Perhaps it is because I get precious little chance to post commentaries any longer, but has anyone recently mentioned DiFi’s husband’s business interests? (BTW, perchance researched the Israel/China Wiki?)

    Richard Blum(DiFi hubby)

    Spouse

    Dianne Feinstein (1980–present)

    Richard C. Blum (c. 1936[1]) is an American investment banker. He is the husband of United States Senator from California Dianne Feinstein. He is the Chairman and President of Blum Capital, an equity investment management firm that acts as general partner for various investment partnerships and provides investment advisory services. Blum also serves in various boards of directors of several companies, including CB Richard Ellis. He is also a Regent of the University of California where until May 2009, he served as the chairman of that board.

    Blum founded Blum Capital in 1975 and pioneered the firm’s hybrid Strategic Block/Private Equity investment strategy. Mr. Blum currently serves as Chairman of the board of directors of CB Richard Ellis and is a director on the boards of directors of three other portfolio companies: Fairmont Raffles Holdings International Ltd., Current Media, L.L.C. and Myer Pty Ltd. in Australia. Mr. Blum co-founded Newbridge Capital in the early 1990s and is Co-Chairman of TPG Asia V, L.P. (the successor fund to the Newbridge franchise that has been incorporated into Texas Pacific Group). In the past, Mr. Blum has served on the boards of many prominent companies, including Northwest Airlines Corporation, Glenborough Realty Trust, Inc., Korea First Bank, URS Corporation and National Education Corporation. In addition, Mr. Blum is active in numerous non-profit organizations. He is the founder and Chairman of the American Himalayan Foundation and is Honorary Consul to Mongolia and Nepal. Mr. Blum also serves as a member of the Advisory Board of the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.

    [edit] Career

    Blum joined investment brokerage Sutro & Co. at the age of 23, becoming a partner before age 30.[1] At Sutro Blum led a partnership that acquired Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for $8m, selling it to Mattel four years later for $40m.[1] On the back of this deal Blum started in business for himself in 1975, founding what is now Blum Capital Partners;[1] a stake in URS Corp. was one of its first investments.[1]

    [edit] Controversy

    Blum’s wife, Senator Dianne Feinstein, has received scrutiny due to her husband’s government contracts and extensive business dealings with China and her past votes on trade issues with the country. Blum has denied any wrongdoing, however.[3] Critics have argued that business contracts with the US government awarded to a company (Perini) controlled by Blum may raise a potential conflict-of-interest issue with the voting and policy activities of his wife.[4] URS Corp, which Blum had a substantial stake in, bought EG&G, a leading provider of technical services and management to the U.S. military, from The Carlyle Group in 2002; EG&G subsequently won a $600m defense contract.[1]

    In 2009 it was reported that Blum’s wife Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to provide $25 billion in taxpayer money to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, a government agency that had recently awarded her husband’s real estate firm, CB Richard Ellis, what the Washington Times called “a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.”[5]

  13. Gitcheegumee says:

    @Gitcheegumee:

    Re; Texas Pacific Group,per Wiki:

    Texas Pacific Group in the early 2000s

    TPG Ventures is founded in 2001

    In July 2002, TPG, together with Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, announced the high profile $2.3 billion leveraged buyout of Burger King from Diageo.[18] However, in November the original transaction collapsed, when Burger King failed to meet certain performance targets. In December 2002, TPG and its co-investors agreed on a reduced $1.5 billion purchase price for the investment.[19] The TPG consortium had support from Burger King’s franchisees, who controlled approximately 92% of Burger King restaurants at the time of the transaction. Under its new owners, Burger King underwent a major brand overhaul including the use of The Burger King character in advertising. In February 2006, Burger King announced plans for an initial public offering.[20]

  14. Gitcheegumee says:

    @Gitcheegumee:

    Past is prologue…commments #49-51..re:UBS,Shenzen Bank and Newbridge Capital

    Pleasure Island Lesson: Don’t Play With the Bad Guys …
    I found the links for UBS(Gramm was lobbyist there),and Shenzhen Bank. Shenzhen bank’s primary stockholder is Newbridge Capital-DiFi’s hubby’s firm.
    firedoglake.com/2009/03/22/pleasure-island-lesson-dont… – Cached

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