If UndieBomb 2.0 Is One of the Worst Leaks of Holder’s Career, Why Is John Brennan CIA Director?

In a press conference today, Eric Holder didn’t let recusal from the UndieBomb 2.0 leak investigation stop him from commenting on it. Among other things, he claimed this one of the most serious leaks he has seen since he started as a prosecutor in 1976.

This was a very serious leak. A very, very serious leak. I’ve been a prosecutor since 1976, and I have to say that this is among, if not the most serious, it is within the top two or three most serious leaks I’ve ever seen. It put the American people at risk. And that is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk.

But here’s the thing. According to his own sworn testimony, John Brennan had a key role in providing hints that led to the actually damaging parts of the leak.

I said there was never a threat to the American public as we had said so publicly, because we had inside control of the plot and the device was never a threat to the American public.

[snip]

I — I — what I’m saying is that we were explaining to the American public why that IED was not in fact a threat at the time that it was in the control of individuals. When — when we say positive control, inside control, that means that we (inaudible) that operation either environmentally or any number of ways. It did not in any way reveal any type of classified information. And I told those individuals and there are, you know, transcripts that are available of that conversation, “I cannot talk to you about the operational details of this whatsoever.”

Sure, Brennan claims this didn’t amount to sharing classified information. But he could have just said the plot was actually rolled up on April 22. Instead, he let slip that we (actually, the British and Saudis) had inside control, which led Richard Clarke to figure out what had happened.

Even if DOJ doesn’t consider Brennan a subject or target of this investigation (which is itself noteworthy), his part in the leak still shows really poor judgment and information security.

So if this leak was so damaging, why did a guy who had a central part in it get promoted?

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.

7 replies
  1. What Constitution says:

    I still vote for the “government sources” who leaked to Brian Ross the false information that there was bentonite in the anthrax back in 2001. That was worser. And it wasn’t even on Holder’s watch, as near as I can tell. Maybe Brennan’s, though — where was he in relation to Scooter “Chemical” Libby back then?

  2. orionATL says:

    i can’t treat holder’s claim of a serious security danger posed by this leak as anything other than another calculated, self-serving public lie by an american public official.

    suddenly, his dept of justice is being criticized for its heavy-handedness in subpoenaing journalists phone and email records. the severity and breadth of source of the criticism is new to the doj. but there is nothing new about the doj’s tactics. these are the same, the very same, heavy-handed, ruthless tactics his doj has been using in leak cases since he became attorney-general.

    the attorney-general wants to deflect the criticism. so what does the AG? why the age-old washington tactic of claiming that national security is involved in a super-super-serious way.

    but holder can’t tell you what way that was.

    so, once again, it’s:

    “trust me, folks. just trust me. you know me. would i lie to you?”

    if, at some point, evidence comes forward that this leak really was serious, then we can evaluate that evidence as well as our view of holder’s claim. but right now the only sensible working hypothesis is that holder is lying thru his teeth by exaggerating the threat posed by the leak.

    using the reuters article, i can see two grounds for making this claim, neither of which convinces me of the seriousness of the leak:

    – that the british were so pissed with the u.s. they may have threatened to refuse co-operating (the julian assange argument).

    – that the infiltration of al-qap was forced to close down early, maybe, just maybe, weeks earlier. but is this true? and would it have been that serious?

    what were, in fact, the subsequent “very serious” real consequences to u.s national security due to having to shut down the infiltration early?

    were there any real consequences? or were all the “consequences” only in some officials minds?

    at the moment all i can see coming from holder is a lie and yet another effort by some administration officials to bamboozle the press and public with hocus-pocus about national security.

    for the doj the most useful effect of this statement may be to freeze the media in their tracks, so they don’t start doing serious, esxtensive investigation of the doj’s conduct here and in previous “leak” investigations.

  3. orionATL says:

    i can see another benefit coming from this doj/ap story.

    benghazi seems to have become less important. at least for the moment.

  4. Frank33 says:

    @orionATL:
    But Darth Cheney says BEN_GHA_ZEE is a coverup and the President is lying. It is worse than (Watergate x Iran-Contra)**2.

    And Vickie Nuland, State Dept. Spokesliar and member of Team Petraeus, is being thrown under the bus. Vickie took out the Al Qaeda and terror reference in the Sunday tee vee Talking Points. The horror. She thought that it might cause some criticism by someone about something.

    State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland — a former Dick Cheney aide — objected to including information in the talking points noting that the CIA had issued previous warnings that there was a threat to U.S. assets in Benghazi from al-Qaeda-linked groups because, Nuland said in an email, it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?”

    And Vickie threw Susan Rice under the bus. And Brennan threw General Petraeus under the bus. P4 was shagging his press agent. Vickie should be fired. And Brennan should be fired. But Spymasters never get fired, except for General Petraeus.

  5. Frank33 says:

    And UndieBomber #1 was a False Flag Op with Undie being followed for weeks by the CIA. Then the CIA let him board an airliner without a search, after he got his bomb in his underwear

    Abdulmutallab and Undie #2 were both linked to Al-Awlaki the inspirational leader with a website that just radicalized anyone who viewed it. Undie #1 and #2 were also linked to the mysterious Saudi Bombmaker who made the bombs.

    Who is more dangerous? Religious nut with a website? Or Saudi Bombmaker who makes the bombs that go in the underwear? Mysterious Saudi Bombmaker was ignored by Brennan and our brave spies of the Intelligence Community. Mysterious Saudi Bombmaker has vanished and no one cares. He could strike again, in underwear.

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