The Laughable Currently Operative AP Pushback Story

It has taken several days for the government — apparently, almost exclusively DOJ — to try to spin its secret seizure of AP call records. The new version of the government’s ever-evolving story is that the reason the AP story was so damaging was because it prevented CIA from using the mole to locate Ibrahim al-Asiri, AQAP’s bomb-maker.

Here’s how the guy who headed DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy until last year explained this on Friday.

About a year ago, someone within the government who had access to highly classified information about an intelligence operation in Yemen involving a double agent saw fit to talk about it with the Associated Press. When senior government officials learned that the Associated Press had this story and intended to publish it, those officials realized that the agent’s cover had been blown. Anxious for his safety, the officials prevailed on the AP to delay publication so that first the agent’s family and then the agent himself could be extracted to safety. The AP then published its story, which focused on thwarting a plot to use a new and improved underwear bomb to blow up an airplane bound for the United States.

What went completely without mention in the initial coverage was the fact that thwarting this plot was not the objective of the ongoing undercover operation. Its true objective was to gain enough intelligence to locate and neutralize the master bomb builder, Ibrahim Hassan al-Ashiri, who works with an Al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Penetrating AQAP is incredibly difficult. This double agent provided a rare opportunity to gain critical, life-saving information. Whoever disclosed the information obtained by the AP had not only put the agent’s life and his family’s life in danger. He also killed a golden opportunity to save untold more lives that now remain at risk due to al-Ashiri remaining at large.

Here’s how three former high-ranking DOJ officials explained it in an op-ed today.

The United States and its allies were trying to locate a master bomb builder affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group that was extremely difficult to penetrate. After considerable effort and danger, an agent was inserted inside the group. Although that agent succeeded in foiling one serious bombing plot against the United States, he was rendered ineffective once his existence was disclosed.

And here’s how Walter Pincus reported it today.

Whoever provided the initial leak to the Associated Press in April 2012 not only broke the law but caused the abrupt end to a secret, joint U.S./Saudi/British operation in Yemen that offered valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

One goal was to get AQAP’s operational head, Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso. That happened one day before the AP story appeared.

A second goal was to find and possibly kill AQAP bombmaker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, whose first underwear device almost killed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s anti-terrorism chief.


Hitting targets in the United States is one of AQAP’s goals. In association with Saudi intelligence, the CIA inserted a Saudi who convinced AQAP that he wanted to be a suicide bomber. Eventually he was outfitted with Asiri’s newest device, which he was to use on a U.S. aircraft. After the device was delivered to U.S. officials, someone or several people leaked the information to the AP. [my emphasis]

Now, Pincus’ story is generally balanced. Unlike the other two, he admits that Fahd al-Quso got killed while the AP held their story and that, in killing Quso, the government accomplished at least one objective of the mole’s mission and did so thanks to AP’s willingness to cede to government requests about this story. He also admits that before the AP ever came to the government with the story, the mole’s UndieBomb had already been delivered to the US.

That chronology is important. And it is one backed by the government’s official timeline (not to mention the CNN report that said the mole had turned over the bomb around April 20 and the report that Robert Mueller traveled to Yemen for an unscheduled 45 minute meeting on April 24). The day after the AP story, Jay Carney said that Obama had been informed about the plot in “early April.”

Q Do you expect that he’ll address at all — I know we got statements yesterday, but the Yemeni al Qaeda plot, do you think he will address that at all in his remarks today?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t expect him to address that issue in his remarks. I mean, I will say that he’s certainly pleased with the success of our intelligence and counterterrorism officials in foiling the attempt by al Qaeda to use this explosive device. It is indicative of the kind of work that our intelligence and counterterrorism services are performing regularly to counter the threat posed by al Qaeda in general, and AQAP in particular.

So he was regularly — as you know, he was made aware of this development in early April and he was regularly briefed on it by John Brennan. [my emphasis]

The NSC’s official statement on that day also said Obama had been informed of the plot in April.

So the government rolled up the plot in April — almost certainly by April 24 — and then the AP came to the CIA and White House with their story about a foiled plot on May 2.

It’s that timing that undermines the claim that the government still hoped to use the mole to get at Ibrahim al-Asiri. Because to maintain that claim, you’d have to explain how an AQAP operative who had been entrusted with the latest version of Ibrahim al-Asiri’s UndieBomb sometime in early April, had left (at least as far as Sanaa), had not apparently succeeded in his mission (which was, after all, meant to be a suicide bombing), could return to AQAP without the UndieBomb and infiltrate even further than he had the first time.

“Oh, hi, AQAP gatekeeper” — their story must imagine the mole saying as he returned to AQAP — “I’ve both failed in my mission and somehow lost the bomb you gave me, but based on that would you be willing to let me spend some quality time with even higher-ranking AQAP operatives?”

The government must believe AQAP has far worse counterintelligence than Asiri’s longevity would seem to suggest. Alternately, they’re just inventing stories right now to justify their seizure.

The CIA (and MI6 and the Saudis) may have hoped to infiltrate far enough to locate Asiri when the mole first infiltrated AQAP (though I wonder how much the $5 million reward for killing Quso was used to motivate the mole, because millionaires are much harder to convince to risk their lives in such dangerous operations). But once Quso handed the mole a bomb and a mission — and according to the White House’s own story, that happened before the AP ever came to them with the story — it’s hard to imagine how they could still use him in any case.

Now all of that is not to say the story, as it developed, was not damaging. I’m completely sympathetic to claims that because subsequent stories — all follow-up stories to John Brennan’s hints about us having an infiltrator — pissed off the Brits for exposing their role in the plot. I’m completely sympathetic to claims that the revelation that we had an infiltrator — all follow-up stories to John Brennan’s hints — exposed the degree to which we are using infiltrators in AQAP. Though the prior exposure by Arabian peninsula sources of Mazin Salih Musaid al-Awfi and Jabir al-Fayfi, would have already have done at the time, as have Morton Storm’s stories about trying to locate Anwar al-Awlaki have done subsequently. Moreover, Ansar al-Sharia’s execution of three alleged spies in February 2012 shows that they were acutely worried about spies during precisely the time the mole in this case successfully infiltrated the group. I can also imagine that the revelation that we rolled up the plot because of an infiltrator and not because of Rapiscan machines or some other technological surveillance might have exposed anyone who helped the mole infiltrate AQAP.

But damage from the revelation that we had a mole in the plot all traces back to John Brennan’s ill-considered push-back on the AP story, not from the AP story itself.

You know? John Brennan? The guy who got a big promotion nine months after sloppily exposing a mole? The guy who, as a result, now serves as the original classification authority for some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets?

It’s hard to believe that the harm from exposing the mole was so significant yet Obama nevertheless promoted the guy whose bad judgment and blabby mouth inadvertently led to that harm.

Now, maybe the AP story created different kinds of harms. Maybe AP scooping the White House prevented the White House from rolling out the story — as they had before with the toner cartridge plot — in a way that would have better fit their re-election narrative. Maybe it revealed that the government significantly ramped up security at the Osama bin Laden anniversary purely as a propaganda stunt (though if that’s the case, the exposure of that ramp-up might count as genuine whistle-blowing). Maybe the AP story revealed that the harm the Administration was going to use to justify signature strikes in Yemen was just a Saudi sting, not a real danger. Maybe the AP story just alerted the government to transparency on its actions in Yemen, actions which might not withstand that kind of scrutiny.

There are a whole slew of possible harms — some that relate to US national security, some that relate to the political security of members of our national security establishment — that might arise from the AP story. But, particularly given the subsequent promotion of John Brennan, they can’t logically be the ones these people are claiming.

Update: I can think of one detail that would make everything make sense. But it might also be far, far worse for the government if it’s the case. More, in a follow-up post.

Update: According to the Times of London, the mole and his handler were pulled from Yemen on April 20, 17 days before the AP published their story.

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.

37 replies
  1. Jim White says:

    I still find it amazing that if Asiri is the evil genius that Peter King wants us to believe, somehow none of his bombs have ever killed their intended victims. There is the issue of his brother being killed by one as a suicide bomber, but even that one didn’t kill the Saudi intelligence figure targeted.

  2. orionATL says:

    methinks the doj doth protest too much.

    one must always keep in mind that the cia and fbi and doj are enormous bunglers. there is almost no obtuse, convoluted folly they will not take a shot at.

    just on intuition, not on any known fact, this operation reminds me somehow of the oh so subtlely altered

    nuclear plans that our security boys tried to foist on the iranians a few years back.

  3. Frank33 says:

    The AP then published its story, which focused on thwarting a plot to use a new and improved underwear bomb to blow up an airplane bound for the United States.

    What went completely without mention in the initial coverage was the fact that thwarting this plot was not the objective of the ongoing undercover operation.

    So, stopping the plot to destroy an airplane bound for the US was NOT the objective of this brilliant Spy Ruse. I feel much more reassured.

  4. orionATL says:


    come to think of it, didn’t the guy who revealed that end up in the doj’s sights.

    new parlor guessing game:

    how many of the individuals whom the doj has prosecuted, or has tried to prosecute, under obama have revealed folly, incompetence, or graft by some members of our national security mafia?

  5. orionATL says:

    i know – we gave the bomb maker a plan/code for making a plastic (plastic and plastique) bomb using a 3-d printer.

    then our security establishment trusted their own competence to prevent an in-air disaster from following on.

  6. orionATL says:


    or betrayalnof the trust the nation had placed in them with respect to our security.

    it occurs to me that the obama admin’s unusually harsh record of prosecuting whistleblowers/leakers may not be because any of those so far attacked by doj/fbi have revealed very serious secrets -they don’t seem to have done so – but because the obama admin is trying desperately to keep a truly damaging revelation to government’s credibility from occuring.

    my favorites for this terrible dark secret are that the wtc airplane bombing was allowed to occur or that the ensuing anthrax attack was authorized by bush officials.

  7. Snoopdido says:

    From the Walter Pincus article:

    “The AP story, when it first appeared, made no mention of how the United States obtained the new type of bomb. But by describing the event as the CIA halting an AQAP suicide-bombing plot, the story turned a clever clandestine operation into a negative political issue for the White House during the presidential campaign.

    How? The AP story tied the foiling of an AQAP plot to White House press secretary Jay Carney’s statement the week before that assured “the American public that [the administration] knew of no al-Qaeda plots against the U.S. around the anniversary of bin Laden’s death.” The AP story implied that Carney’s statement was untrue. But Carney was right. This was a CIA ruse, not a terrorist-initiated plot.”

    The Pincus/CIA spin doesn’t make sense. If you take their story at face value, it intimates that no other UndieBombing 2.0 could have taken place and that somehow the CIA just knew there was only one suicide UndieBomber 2.0 who just happened to be our plant in AQAP.

    The Pincus/CIA story therefore seems to imply that we knew far more about AQAP operational details at a higher level than likely known by suicide UndieBomber 2.0.

    The Pincus/CIA story seems to imply that AQAP has so little operational security that just about anybody could easily find out about all of their planned operations.

    If that were actually the case, AQAP would have been wiped out long ago.

    Therefore, the point in the AP’s story about the public statements of the Obama administration that they “knew of no al-Qaeda plots against the U.S.” cannot be true.

  8. scribe says:

    @Snoopdido: You note:
    If that were actually the case, AQAP would have been wiped out long ago.

    Actually, that might be the big, bad government secret – that the remaining AQ and affiliates are not much more than bogeymen propped up by the PTB in our national security establishment in fulfillment of their prime purpose in life: “always justify the continued existence of your job”.

    In other words, we keep stirring the terrist pot (Drones whacking women, kids and ambulance drivers on signatures alone come in handy for that purpose) to keep the war on terra going so the terra-warriors in our government have something to do.

  9. orionATL says:


    “… The Pincus/CIA spin doesn’t make sense. If you take their story at face value, it intimates that no other UndieBombing 2.0 could have taken place and that somehow the CIA just knew there was only one suicide UndieBomber 2.0 who just happened to be our plant in AQAP…”

    you may be right.

    but i an think of one eventuality that would make the statement true:

    if there are so many saudi, british, french, el-salvadoran, american, yemeni spies in the ranks of al-qap that they are close to effectively being aqap or at least to knowing everything coming down.

    come to think of it, what has aqap done in the last 6 months either in yemen or internationally?

  10. klynn says:

    My point for posting the Haskell story is that we have witnesses from the past attempt…there must be witnesses to any aspect of the story for this 2.0. IANAL, if a witness speaks about what they observed, are they considered threats? If they speak to the press, does that make the witness and the press national security threats even if the reason the witness saw anything was due to crappy work by agents?

    Are citizens at risk for being considered threats through our own keen skills of observation?

  11. klynn says:

    And, if there was a handler in 1.0, how did the fact that someone witnessed this not some how affect the development of 2.0?

  12. Frank33 says:

    The mysterious State Dept guy Patrick Kennedy made a statement to the Detroit News, but that article may have been disappeared. Basically, Undie was allowed on board #253, and the Security at Schipol(?) Airport said Undie was cleared after the well dressed handler got him through security saying, “We do this all the time”.

    But it seems Christopher H. Schroeder, if that is really his name, is revealing a lot of information about AP-Gate, not previously revealed. That would make it a “leak”. Someone alert Alberto Holder at the DOJ. It is HuffPo-Gate

    And it makes Schoeder or HuffPo a Lying Liar.

    From April 2010 through 2012 he was Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy, United States Department of Justice. He has no non-public knowledge of the criminal investigation.

  13. lefrty665 says:

    @Snoopdido: “they knew of no al-Qaeda plots against the U.S.” cannot be true.

    What if that is the true statement and the rest is puffery? Maybe we’re really just bozo blowhards. I recall a post somewhere recently that referred to Brennan as one of D.Cs biggest windbags.

    Or perhaps it is just lying to cover what we do know and lull AQAP. They take their operational security posture from the White House flack, right?

  14. klynn says:


    My point is 1.0 failed and with witnesses of a handler. How in the world did we have a successful double agent still in place after 1.0 failed with witnesses of a handler and a “current double agent” had the trust of Ibrahim al-Asiri after the 1.0 failure? On top of EW’s observation:

    “Oh, hi, AQAP gatekeeper” — their story must imagine the mole saying as he returned to AQAP — “I’ve both failed in my mission and somehow lost the bomb you gave me, but based on that would you be willing to let me spend some quality time with even higher-ranking AQAP operatives?”

    Something does not add up.

  15. Thomas Nephew says:

    Who are the USDAs who are involved in the AP, Rosen, Risen, etc. cases? Are they Obama appointees or holdovers from the Bush/Cheney administration?

    Remember AttorneyGate? — DAs being pressured by Rove et al to do bogus voter fraud investigations, and fired if they didn’t? At the time, one of the things smart about that was “hey, they serve at the pleasure of the President”, and one was given to understand that in the Democratic administration a’comin, they’d all be history, so that somehow made it a ‘par for the course, karma will even things out’ kind of thing.

    But if there are holdovers among the USDAs involved in these cases — I don’t have the research chops to figure it out quickly — that’s potentially kind of a different explanation for things, since I think they do have some independent authority to conduct investigations and press charges as they (rightly or wrongly) see fit. The question would remain why Obama didn’t feel urgent about/able to put new people in place.

  16. Frank33 says:

    I support the theory that these smaller coverups and covert ops are to protect bags of cash and mistresses for Generals and money for nothin’ and war for free. But each of these Pushbacks are invaluable. They do reveal somebody in the Spy Community is very angry with their formerly embedded reporters.

    Schroeder wants us to worship and obey our Secret Police. And we were on the verge, THE VERGE, of neutralizing The Mastermind of Al Qaeda! The Criminals Of AP-Gate have endangered lives. Hey, Schroeder, go to hell.

    our country’s intelligence entities were doing everything right and were potentially on the verge of a major counter-intelligence success in neutralizing a key AQAP mastermind who is actively plotting to kill innocent civilians. Then some person inside the government decided to destroy the entire operation and to endanger human lives. It is no wonder this is against the law.

  17. Joséphine Karlsson says:

    You claim that “damage from the revelation that we had a mole in the plot all traces back to John Brennan’s ill-considered push-back on the AP story, not from the AP story itself.”

    But Orin Kerr of Volokh Conspiracy (whom you cited with approval about a month ago) sees it differently:

    “The AP story tells us three important things: 1) The CIA knew about the details of the plot during its planning stages; 2) The CIA not only interrupted the plot but actually took the bomb into its possession and then passed it off to the FBI; and 3) the CIA’s work was occurring as recently as a few days before the AP story was published on 5/7/2012.

    Based on those three facts, it seems pretty likely that the CIA had people “on the inside” of Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate who took possession of the bomb. As covert agents, they would have covered up their removal of the bomb by making it seem like something else had happened. That matters, I think, because it means that the Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen have a ready way to find the CIA plant(s). Just trace back what happened to the bomb, and specifically find the folks who claim to have seen it last and who came up with some story about what happened to it around the beginning of May. Chances are, that would bring you to the guys working for the CIA. And that discovery probably means no more CIA plants working on the inside the next time, which may take away the person(s) who otherwise could disrupt future plots or tip off U.S. authorities to a future attack.

    Of course, we can’t be sure that this is the case. But a close read of the original AP story does suggest reasons why this would have been a particularly dangerous leak. And, if so, that may explain why AG Holder thinks that this leak justifies a “very aggressive” investigation.”

    If I’m reading Kerr correctly (and his language is not entirely clear), he seems to conclude that the AP story revealed, or probably revealed, that the US had a mole.

    Can you explain why you are right and Kerr is wrong on the issue of whether the revelation of a mole can be traced back to the original AP article?


  18. Joséphine Karlsson says:

    @Snoopdido: Re Pincus: If you read the original AP story, it impliedly criticizes the administration for publicly stating there were no AQ plots at the very same time they were secretly thwarting an AQ plot.

    The pushback from Brennan and then Richard Clarke was focused almost entirely on this angle of the AP story.

  19. Roman Berry says:


    Actually, that might be the big, bad government secret – that the remaining AQ and affiliates are not much more than bogeymen propped up by the PTB in our national security establishment in fulfillment of their prime purpose in life: “always justify the continued existence of your job”.

    Ever see the post 9/11 documentary by Adam Curtis of the BBC titled “The Power of Nightmares“? I saw it years ago and it left an impression. When you’re thinking “bogeymen” conjured up in service to agenda, you may be closer to the truth than you realize.

  20. emptywheel says:

    @Joséphine Karlsson: First of all, he’s wrong because he’s ignoring that 2 infiltrators had been exposed in the past, plus three people AQAP believed were spies killed in February, which didn’t prevent our mole from infiltrating.

    The other reason he’s wrong is bc CIA thwarts plots w/o having infiltrators (such as the liquids plot). Indeed, while the toner cartridge plot relied on an isnider, it also must have relied on other intelligence from Yemen that was probably gathered by Saudis.

  21. emptywheel says:

    @Joséphine Karlsson: Incidentally, that’s another reason Kerr is wrong. If AP’s story emphasizes the seriousness of the plot, then it can’t very well also be saying it wasn’t serious bc we had an insider.

  22. thatvisionthing says:

    @orionATL: Voldemort must not be named.

    Chechnya Skyscraper Defies 9/11 Physics (Building 7)

    April 3, 2013, Chechnya. A 40-story skyscraper burns for over 5 hours. The story is blasted across social media, countless news stations put out stories, but strangely not a single one mentions anything about this skyscraper potentially collapsing. Sure they’ll talk about the fire, they’ll talk about evacuating people, they’ll talk about debris falling off the side of the building as the fire destroys, but not once is anything ever reported about the building potentially collapsing.

    Wait a minute. Didn’t 9/11 happen? Wasn’t history made that day when Building 7, a skyscraper 47 stories tall, burned for a few hours and then collapsed cleanly at free-fall speed with no significant prior buckling? 9/11 was one of the most infamous days in American history, in world history, yet not a single media outlet mentions the possibility of this Chechnyan skyscraper potentially collapsing. Why isn’t that one of the contingencies being mentioned? They’ll follow the entire causal, logical chain of events from beginning to end, but then they end abruptly and don’t mention anything about a potential building collapse. […] Didn’t one of the most infamous days in American and world history prove to everyone that a prominent New York modern skyscraper could collapse due to fires at free-fall speed in a clean, concise way? Why are people so sure that the building will stand? Why are people so quick to assume it will stand? Why isn’t the possibility of modern skyscrapers collapsing due to fires a common, acknowledged fact of reality whenever any modern skyscraper catches fire like this?

    Could it be that deep down everyone knows that modern skyscrapers don’t collapse due to fires or for that matter collapse at free-fall speed and into their own footprint? Even though the mainstream media and the mainstream of society accept the premise that Building 7 collapsed due to fires, they sure don’t seem to act like it whenever other skyscrapers catch fire. That’s kind of a logical contradiction.

    Why wasn’t the possibility of collapse mentioned? Because the media know the Building 7 story is crazy to the eye, or because they know they can’t talk about it?

    Plus, I’m so out of it, when I heard about Boston and the Chechnya connection, I put these two stories together; the skyscraper had happened just prior. Foreshadowing or spin? Never trust Chechnya, just trust us.

    I admit that I don’t and can’t follow all the stories and know all the details, the “facts” of the cases — but how unusual am I, and how many people have just given up trying? We all have dots, we all connect them in our own ways; we also all have screens. What does this say about what we all think or trust to be true, and what we don’t even bother listening to anymore? David Brooks on PBS NewsHour kind of talked about that the other day:

    DAVID BROOKS: You know, if you go through the 20th century and if you ask people, do you trust government to do the right thing most of the time, typically, the numbers would be about 70 percent we’re trusting government to do the right thing. In the last 10 years, maybe it’s 19 percent, 25 percent, somewhere down there. And that fundamental shift in the country, distrust of government, changes politics in all sorts of ways.

    Ya think? Secrets and immunity and presumption of regularity given to their reports in court and beyond, even when it’s idiocy not to question it and there’s nothing like that in the Constitution?

    Voldemort must not be named, must not be looked at, so go play over there in your designated free speech zone. Securely.

  23. Joséphine Karlsson says:

    @emptywheel: Thanks!

    My take on the AP article is that:

    [1] There’s nothing in the text that reveals there was an infiltrator (excepting the possibility that apparently insignificant facts in the story could conceivably have revealed a mole to an AQ insider; however, such revelations are beyond the scope of Kerr’s analysis).

    [2] I disagree with Kerr’s point (1) that a fair reading of the story reveals that the CIA “knew about the details of the plot during its planning stages.”

    The story tells us (i) the bomb was captured; and (ii) the bomber had not yet selected a target or purchased a plane ticket.

    At worst, point (ii) *might* allude to the bomber having been captured, in which case a theoretical re-infiltration would have been made more difficult or impossible. Regardless, I don’t see how details (i) and (ii) would have exposed the *original* infiltration.

    [3] I don’t see how Kerr’s points (2) and (3) are even remotely relevant to the question of whether the story exposed an infiltration.

    That said, it *may* have been the case that the administration would have preferred that AQ not know the CIA had captured the bomb.

    But if so, why would the administration have withdrawn its objection to publication of the story, with the exception of objecting to the publication’s timing?

    “Incidentally, that’s another reason Kerr is wrong. If AP’s story emphasizes the seriousness of the plot, then it can’t very well also be saying it wasn’t serious bc we had an insider.”

    Excellent point. The logic of the story cuts against the bomber being an infiltrator.

    It follows from this that to the extent the story may have pointed to an infiltration (which I don’t think was the case), it would have tended to point to an infiltrator other than the bomber.

    Thus the story might have sown confusion in the AQ ranks by casting suspicion on loyal members. In short, it might have been an effective (if presumably inadvertent) piece of disinformation — if only Brennan hadn’t spilled the beans!

    [4] Even if Kerr is wrong in his conclusions about the AP story, I don’t think that obviates the possibility that there may have been a “very, very serious leak” — that is, a leak (or leaker) with the potential to do serious damage, even if no damage was done by the AP story.

    [5] I agree with Kerr’s narrow point that a covert agent could conceivably have covered up the CIA’s capture of the bomb “by making it seem like something else had happened.”

    Again, however, if exposing details of the bomb’s capture would have bollixed an ongoing infiltration, then why would the White House have agreed to publication?

  24. P J Evans says:

    Because the people who keep talking about Building 7 don’t know what they’re talking about. It burned for several hours, without a lot of notice, because everyone was watching the two towers instead.
    The rest of it is physics applied to structures: remove enough supports in the correct location, and you get collapsing building.

  25. thatvisionthing says:

    @P J Evans: I believe the 9/11 Architects and Engineers disagree with you, and have data to back themselves up, but that’s secondary. Repeating the youtube’s question:

    April 3, 2013, Chechnya. A 40-story skyscraper burns for over 5 hours. The story is blasted across social media, countless news stations put out stories, but strangely not a single one mentions anything about this skyscraper potentially collapsing.

    Why not?

  26. thatvisionthing says:

    @Frank33: Patrick Kennedy testified before the Senate Judiciary committee (1/20/10) and the House Committee on Homeland Security (1/27/10) — there’s a YouTube that has snips. State Dept. did not revoke Abdulmutallab’s visa, at the request of their “law enforcement and intelligence communities partners.” I can find Kennedy’s prepared statements online but not a transcript, so here’s this; apologize for the length and trust to Marcy to trim or let stand as she sees fit:
    Flight 253 Patrick F. Kennedy Testimony

    Patrick F. Kennedy testifies before the Senate and House committees investigating the 12/25/09 Christmas Day Bombing attempt of Flight 253

    Counterterrorism & Interagency Communications – C-Span 2


    Patrick Kennedy, Undersecretary of State for Management: …expeditious coordination with our national security partners is not to be underestimated.  There have been numerous cases where our unilateral and uncoordinated revocation of a visa would have disrupted important investigations that were underway by one of our national security partners.  They had the individual under investigation and our revocation action would have disclosed U.S. government’s interest in that individual and ended our colleagues’ ability, such as the FBI, to pursue the case quietly and to identify terrorist plans and co-conspirators.

    – cut –

    Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland): Get to Mr. Abdulmutallab for one moment. Information became available last year to the State Department from his father, and as I understand, that information was reviewed as to whether there was a visa outstanding in regards to that individual and because of the spelling of the name it didn’t pop up on your data search. Is that correct?

    Patrick Kennedy: That is correct, Senator. We did, though, put the name correctly into our lookout system and the lookout system went to all the agencies in Washington and a longer classified message describing more in-depth conversations with his father went in with the correct spelling and the two were married up in a single file in Washington, and so the misspelling, our error, was obviated by the second message that paired up with it, sir.

    Sen. Cardin: But it never jumped – it never gave you the information at the time that at least it was outstanding. If it did, if it would have shown that he had been issued a visa in 2008, was there sufficient information available for you to take action in regards to that visa?

    Patrick Kennedy: No, sir, there was not, there was not sufficient information from his father, nor do we take preemptive action, because as I mentioned earlier we always consult with our law enforcement and intelligence community partners before we revoke a visa to make sure the individual is not a subject of investigation and we would compromise their investigation.

    Sen. Cardin: Are you saying that even if it would have popped up that he had a visa outstanding, you would have not taken any action to revoke that visa?

    Patrick Kennedy: There was insufficient information to immediately revoke the visa, and also following the protocols that have been in place since 2001, we check with our partners in the intelligence and law enforcement communities to make sure that our revoking that visa does not tip him off that he is under surveillance by one of our partners in the national security community, and thus our action would have compromised their ability – let me hypothetically state – to roll up a larger terrorism ring.

    Sen. Cardin: We don’t know what would have happened if you made that inquiry.

    Patrick Kennedy: We did notify, we did put his name correctly spelled into our database that was available to law enforcement and the intelligence community personnel.

    Sen. Cardin: And no dots were connected from that that we’re aware of prior to Christmas.

    Patrick Kennedy: That – sir, that is something that is outside –

    Sen. Cardin: He didn’t go on any watch list, did he?

    Patrick Kennedy: No, sir. We – if the intelligence or law enforcement communities had come back to the State Department and said, “We have other information on this individual in addition to the information you the State Department has provided us, we are putting him on one of the lists,” we would have – potentially we would have revoked that visa in coordination with law enforcement and intelligence.

    Sen. Cardin: The DHS had the information prior to Christmas Day but did not have any reliable information to act – is that where we are?

    David Heyman, Assistant Homeland Security Secretary for Policy: He was neither on the watch list nor a no fly list nor the selectee list, and so there was no, no check against those lists would have come up with anything.

    Sen. Cardin: But whose responsibility was it to look into that information and determine as to whether he was actively involved in Al Qaeda in Yemen?
    Sen. Cardin: No one seems to want to answer.

    – cut –

    Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, Judiciary Committee Chairman: Secretary Kennedy, the State Department didn’t realize the suspect in the Christmas Day attempted bombing possessed a visa until after he initiated his action on the flight. The consular officer sent the first notice that was given to the National Counterterrorism Center that initially misspelled the name, as we talked about, but within days an amended notice was sent to NCTC with the corrected spelling. Why didn’t the consular officer not check the visa status of the Nigerian national at the time the second notice was sent?

    Patrick Kennedy: He did not do that, Mr. Chairman, beca–

    Sen. Leahy: I know he didn’t do it, but why not?

    Patrick Kennedy: Because the second message was launched from another source.

    7 days later on 1/27/10 Patrick F. Kennedy would testify before the House committee…

    Patrick Kennedy: As I mentioned in my statement, Mr. Chairman, if we unilaterally revoked a visa, and there was a case recently, we have a request from a law enforcement agency to NOT revoke the visa. We came across information. We said, “This is a dangerous person.” We were ready to revoke the visa. We then went to the community and said, “Should we revoke this visa?” And one of the members – and we’ll be glad to give you that out – in private – said, “Please, do not revoke this visa. We have eyes on this person. We are following this person who has the visa for the purpose of trying to roll up an entire network, not just stop one person.” So we will revoke the visa of any individual who is a threat to the United States, but we do take one preliminary step. We ask our law enforcement and intelligence community partners, “Do you have eyes on this person, and do you want us to let this person proceed under your surveillance so that you may potentially break a larger plot?”

    Mr. Thompson, Chairman: I think that the point that I’m trying to get at is, is this just another box you’re checking, or is there some security value to adding that box to the list?

    Patrick Kennedy: The intelligence and law enforcement community tell us that they believe in certain cases that there’s a higher value of them following this person so they can find his or her co-conspirators and roll up an entire plot against the United States rather than simply knock out one, one soldier in that effort.

    Sen. Leahy: Why wouldn’t – it may have been launched from another source, but why wasn’t it checked?

    Patrick Kennedy: Beca– I can’t – because we did not have access at the embassy to the other, to that other reporting, Mr. Chairman, and we had entered his name in the correct spelling into the database that is our watch list database which was disseminated to all the appropriate agencies. We slipped up. I have no statement other than that, sir.

    Sen. Leahy: Thank you.

    – cut –

    Sen. Charles Schumer, New York: Do you agree that Abdulmutallab would have been unable to enter the United States had he been required to obtain a new visa prior to his flight to Detroit?

    Patrick Kennedy: We do continue our reviews and if we discover that the terrorist screening center at the FBI or Homeland Security has elevated this person, we then revoke that visa immediately.

    Sen. Schumer: Yeah. Why wouldn’t it be better to do it the way I’m suggesting?

    Patrick Kennedy: Because, Senator, if the information is not – if the dots are not connected, then the individual is going to get the visa because there is no – then when we applies for the new visa and we ran it against the database, if the dots are not connected and an individual has not been put on the list by one of the intelligence or law enforcement communities –

    Sen. Schumer: But he was on the list.

    Patrick Kennedy: He was on a tie– no sir, he was not on no fly, he was not on the no issuance lists.

    Chuck Schumer: Right, but he was on the larger list.

    Patrick Kennedy: Right. And –

    Sen. Schumer: What I’m saying is, if the visa had to be applied for and you’re from one of these 14 countries –

    Patrick Kennedy: Right.

    Sen. Schumer: – then you wouldn’t, he wouldn’t have gotten – if they would have seen him on this list, the bigger list, 500,000 list, then they would have reviewed it more carefully.

    Patrick Kennedy: That – they reviewed – if they, yes, sir –

    Sen. Schumer: If they wouldn’t, then something is profoundly wrong.

    Patrick Kennedy: You’re, you’re, you’re – Senator, you’re very correct. This all lies in connecting dots.

    Sen. Schumer: And you don’t have access to the “tied” database, right?

    Patrick Kennedy: Yes, sir, we have access to the tied database. We’re, we are the people who caused his name to be put into the tied database when we filed the Visa Viper report. We caused his name –

    Sen. Schumer: As I understand it, you have access to what you put into the tied database but not to the whole tied database. That is correct?

    Patrick Kennedy: That is c– we have ac –

    Sen. Schumer: That is correct? Yes or no?

    Patrick Kennedy: Yes.

    Sen. Schumer: Okay. That is my point, isn’t it?

    Patrick Kennedy: But if someone is in the tied database, Senator, and that comes up on the tied database, we then send a message to the intelligence and law enforcement communities and say, “Should we issue this visa or not?”

    (not sure about “tied” database – ?)

  27. Frank33 says:

    I do not know what happened to the Detroit News article. But I have included an excerpt. It is the same old story. The Secret Police always tell us that they can do whatever they want. That includes allowing terrorists to commit terror. Too many of these attacks are very suspicious. Just seems as if the spies have a new Operation Gladio, such as the Boston Bombers. Undie #1 was a False Flag Op. Mumbai was a False Flag Op run by Pakistan ISI, with the help of CIA agent David Headley.

    Ollie North did create the mercenary Contras. Perhaps Ollie created Al Qaeda which does date back to the 80’s.

    Patrick F. Kennedy, an undersecretary for management at the State Department, said Abdulmutallab’s visa wasn’t taken away because intelligence officials asked his agency not to deny a visa to the suspected terrorist over concerns that a denial would’ve foiled a larger investigation into al-Qaida threats against the United States.

    “Revocation action would’ve disclosed what they were doing,” Kennedy said in testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security. Allowing Adbulmutallab to keep the visa increased chances federal investigators would be able to get closer to apprehending the terror network he is accused of working with, “rather than simply knocking out one solider in that effort.”

  28. thatvisionthing says:

    @Frank33: Your Detroit News article looks like it’s quoting Kennedy’s congressional testimony.

    I’m not up to snuff on this, like Operation Gladio, I know Jeff Kaye has written about it several times but I haven’t delved. My point above about what we CAN know – I don’t think we meet on any page anymore. I don’t think we can. Not when secrets and govt stories can’t be challenged and reality (even law!) can’t be checked. So rot sets in. If I was the poet writing this stuff, the government would just collapse like the WTCs some day when some rot gives way, if rot it was – and me, I think rot it was and is, but what do I know. All I know is that we can’t know, and that just makes nonsense out of the Constitution.

    Marcy wonders* if there’s a memo going back to the 1960s to authorize Fred Hampton’s murder by the FBI, I wonder if there’s something (maybe the same something) authorizing the National Guard to fire on and kill the students at Kent State, and Jesse Trentadue has FOIAed stuff about Eric Holder’s Trentadue Mission to cover up congressional oversight into the Oklahoma City bombing, and he was set off by his brother’s murder (by FBI interrogators? – should go back and re-read James Ridgeway’s story in Mother Jones) in the middle of the night in a federal prison in Oklahoma. Feds murdering activists, protesting students, and guys in prison. How great is immunity and secret memos?



    MARCY WHEELER: …remember when Fred Hampton died, the Black Panther leader, right? Totally assassinated. Total overkill. And I keep wondering whether there’s a memo that authorized that somewhere, that said, you know, “Okay, the FBI can go in and kill somebody that we believe to be, you know, a leader of a militant group opposing the United States,” and you know I just think back in those days they didn’t get memos to do everything but, but – we’ve seen it before. It usually is African-Americans. Now it would be Muslims. But they don’t get memos for poor guys who challenge power in this country.

    SCOTT HORTON: Yeah, it seems like that’s more the kind of thing where, like, “Hey, Jimmy, make sure that that guy’s not breathing by tomorrow morning,” kind of a thing rather than an official order.

    MARCY WHEELER: And, well, but the thing is we’ll never know. I mean, the Fred Hampton case is an example where we know that the White House was going nuts about the Black Panthers. We know that the FBI had developed this entire spy network and had infiltrated them and was driving them to increase the violence, so it is very similar to what we see going on with the Al Qaeda network now, it happened in the United States, and it’s precisely that kind of action that led to purportedly putting limits on the CIA so they couldn’t break the law in the United States.

  29. thatvisionthing says:

    @P J Evans: What makes you so sure?

    Also, disagree that nobody was watching. BBC was, they had a camera on it and reporters covering it and they announced it fell minutes before it actually did. Salomon Brothers building = WTC7
    BBC Reports Collapse of WTC Building 7 Early– TWICE

    BBC anchorman: Now, more on the latest building collapse in New York. You might have heard a few moments ago us talking about the Salomon Brothers Building collapsing, and indeed it has. Apparently that’s only a few hundred yards away from where the World Trade Center towers were, and it seems that this was not a result of a new attack, it was because the building had been weakened during this morning’s attacks. We’ll probably find out more now about that from our correspondent Jane Standley. Jane, what more can you tell us about the Salomon Brothers Building and its collapse?

    Cuts to Jane Standley in New York with smoke rising in the background

    Jane Standley: Well, only really what you already know. Details are very, very sketchy. There’s almost a sense downtown (gestures behind her) in New York behind me, down by the World Trade Centers, of just an area completely closed off as the rescue workers try to do their job. But this isn’t the first building that has suffered as a result. We know that part of the Marriott Hotel next to the World Trade Center also collapsed as a result of this huge amount of falling debris from 110 floors of the two twin towers of the World Trade Center. As you can see behind me (moves aside and gestures behind her) the Trade Center appears to be still burning. We see these huge – (YouTube momentarily freezes video, WTC7 – blinking arrows pointing to it added – still standing)

  30. shekissesfrogs says:

    Walter Pinkus was one of the big newspaper reporters who defamed Gary Webb to sink the Iran Contra story.

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