Nick Rasmussen’s Leak Interviews
This is a detail I’ve meant to post on for some time, but the discussion of ODNI’s latest on leaks has finally prompted me to point to this detail.
As part of the standard questionnaire for Intelligence Committee nominees, Rasmussen was asked if he had been interviewed in the last 10 years in a leak investigation (question 42). He responded that he had been interviewed in two investigations:
- In 2013, for a FBI investigation concerning compromise/leak of classified information related to a disrupted terrorism plot in 2010
- In 2014, in connection with an FBI counterintelligence investigation.
The latter one is likely to be the 2014 investigation into who leaked a terrorist watch list document to the Intercept. Rasmussen would clearly be among the (as he describes it “large number of people who had access by virtue of position to the information that was reportedly compromised.”
It’s the other investigation I’m interested in. The best known “disrupted” terrorist plot in 2010 was the AQAP toner cartridge plot. And while it could be a different thwarted plot (like Faisal Shahzad’s attack, though not much got leaked about it except from Pakistan), no one has ever reported an investigation into that, even though aspects of that leak largely resembled the UndieBomb 2.0 leak that DOJ subpoenaed the AP over.
But I’m just as struck by Rasmussen’s silence about the UndieBomb 2.0 leak investigation. Rasmussen remained at the same counterterrorism position in the White House until June 2012, through the UndieBomb 2.0 leak. Unless those investigations merged (which might explain why they were investigating a 2010 leak in 2013), it would seem to suggest that Rasmussen was not read into the UndieBomb 2.0 infiltration, in spite of its significant similarities to the Toner Cartridge infiltration.
By way of comparison, here’s how John Brennan answered the same question (he was going to be interviewed on the UndieBomb 2.0 leak during his confirmation process).
- MD USA: Possible unauthorized disclosures of information to reporters about cyberattacks against Iran.
- DC USA: Possible unauthorized disclosures of information to reporters about a foiled bomb plot tied to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (scheduled for February 1, 2013)
The comparison raises the same questions: There’s no way Brennan wasn’t read into whatever 2010 thwarted attack got compromised, because he would have been read into everything (he was a key point person on both the Faisal Shahzad attack, and did a big dog-and-pony show around the Toner Cartridge plot).
Were Rasmussen and Brennan just discussing the same investigation, into how details of double agents in AQAP kept getting exposed (in large part, by our Saudi and AQAP allies). In any case, was Rasmussen not interviewed in the latter part, in which case it would suggest the compartment for the latter was much more closely held?