“Morgan Jones'” Blue Mountain Whitewash

One thing that surprises me about this whole 60 Minutes “Morgan Jones” fiasco is that no one mentions that, regardless of whether “Jones” lied to his supervisor about running to the compound or not, it’s clear he lied to his supervisor about Chris Stevens’ death. As I noted earlier, the incident report (which the FBI has leaked matches his interview with them) says,

I kept quiet about the Ambassadors [sic] death as I knew there would be huge repercussions.

Assuming “Jones'” company was what it claims to be — a security firm — he had been involved in the worst possible disaster, the death of the principal, and he didn’t warn his boss. Even within the scope of the incident report, it’s clear he lied.

The ARB version

With all that in mind, I want to compare what the State Department Accountability Review Board said about BMG’s performance (they refer to it as Blue Mountain Libya, BML) with the two versions “Jones” has offered.

The ARB admitted that BMG guards were unarmed.

The Special Mission also had an unarmed, contract local guard force (LGF), Blue Mountain Libya (BML), which provided five guards per eight-hour shift, 24/7, to open and close the gates, patrol the compound, and give warning in case of an attack.

But it also found they had failed to fulfill one of their primary duties, perimeter patrols.

The Board found the responses by both BML and February 17 to be inadequate. No BML guards were present outside the compound immediately before the attack ensued, although perimeter security was one of their responsibilities,

[snip]

Although the unarmed BML guards could not be expected to repel an attack, they had core responsibility for providing early warning and controlling access to the compound, which they had not always performed well in the past.

In addition, ARB raised questions about whether the BMG guards had run away and left the gate open, facilitating the quick assault on the compound.

In the final analysis, the Board could not determine exactly how the C1 gate at the Special Mission compound was breached, but the speed with which attackers entered raised the possibility that BML guards left the C1 pedestrian gate open after initially seeing the attackers and fleeing the vicinity. They had left the gate unlatched before.

Finally, there are conflicting stories about whether the BMG guards even sounded the first alarm — or any alarm — before attackers had already started streaming into the compound.

and there is conflicting information as to whether they sounded any alarms prior to fleeing the C1 gate area to other areas of the SMC.

[snip]

Around the same time, the TDY RSO working in the TOC heard shots and an explosion. He then saw via security camera dozens of individuals, many armed, begin to enter the compound through the main entrance at the C1 gate. He hit the duck and cover alarm and yelled a warning over the radio, and recalled no such warning from the February 17 or BML guards, who had already begun to flee to points south and east in the compound, towards the Villa B area. ARSOs 1 and 2 heard an attack warning from the BML guards passed on over the radio.

About the only contribution BMG made to security for the compound, the ARB reports, was in noticing a man uniformed as a police officer scoping out the compound earlier that morning.

At approximately 0645 local that morning, a BML contract guard saw an unknown individual in a Libyan Supreme Security Council (SSC) police uniform apparently taking photos of the compound villas with a cell phone from the second floor of a building under construction across the street to the north of the SMC. Read more

“Morgan Jones'” Three Unverifiable Claims Covered Up His Own Failures

As Michael Calderone reports, 60 Minutes has finally conceded they got hoodwinked by “Morgan Jones” AKA “Dylan Davies.”

I’ve heard no related concession from Dick Cheney propagandist Mary Matalin that her Simon & Schuster imprint, Threshold, published a fabrication, “Jones'” book. Until we learn how that happened — which surely drove some of the credibility 60 Minutes accorded a guy working under a pseudonym for obviously nonsensical reasons (his other name, Dylan Davies, had already been published, at a time much closer to the attack) — I think it worth examining what story he chose to tell.

The 60 Minutes platform gave “Jones” the opportunity to make 3 claims that, as delivered, were unverifiable (because there were no witnesses).

2 of them conflict with the incident report that has been his undoing. In the first — and the one that has attracted all the attention — “Jones” claimed he had heroically entered the compound and bashed some guy’s face in (but not shot him).

Not long afterwards, Morgan Jones scaled the 12-foot high wall of the compound that was still overrun with al Qaeda fighters.

Morgan Jones: One guy saw me. He just shouted. I couldn’t believe that he’d seen me ’cause it was so dark. He started walking towards me.

Lara Logan: And as he was coming closer?

Morgan Jones: As I got closer, I just hit him with the butt of the rifle in the face.

Lara Logan: And?

Morgan Jones: Oh, he went down, yeah.

Lara Logan: He dropped?

Morgan Jones: Yeah, like– like a stone.

Lara Logan: With his face smashed in?

Morgan Jones: Yeah.

Lara Logan: And no one saw you do it?

Morgan Jones: No.

Lara Logan: Or heard it?

Morgan Jones: No, there was too much noise.

The incident report says that “Jones” tried to drive to the compound but upon hitting Ansar al-Sharia roadblocks, his driver judged they’d be killed if they tried to get closer, so they turned back. They were gone from “Jones'” villa for no more than an hour total.

But what’s remarkable about this heroic scene is the designed unverifiability of it. Had “Jones” claimed to have shot a man, there’d be bullets missing from his gun, a dead body. Instead, he bashed the guy’s face in, which is not only more exciting, but also has the advantage of being quieter. No witness to see or hear the event.

I’m far more interested in “Jones'” claim to have gone to the hospital (guarded by the same militia whose roadblocks convinced “Jones” to turn back from the compound) to see Chris Stevens’ dead body. The incident report says, instead, that one of his guards had gone to the hospital to check after one of the guards who had been shot and while there had seen and photographed the Ambassador, and learned he had still been alive when brought to the hospital by Libyan men but then died. Crucially, “Jones'” incident report claims he didn’t tell his own Managing Director that night about Stevens (at least about Stevens’ passing, but possibly even about his being brought to the hospital).

I kept quiet about the Ambassadors [sic] death as I knew there would be huge repercussions.

Compare that with what he told 60 Minutes.

Morgan Jones: I was dreading seeing who it was, you know? It didn’t take long to get to the room. And I could see in through the glass. And I didn’t even have to go into the room to see who it was. I knew who it was immediately.

Lara Logan: Who was it?

Morgan Jones: It was the ambassador, dead. Yeah, shocking.

Morgan Jones said he’d never felt so angry in his life. Only hours earlier, Amb. Chris Stevens had sought him out, concerned about the security at the U.S. Special Mission Compound where Morgan was in charge of the Libyan guard force.

The story was nonsensical in any case, because if an American employed contractor had seen the Ambassador’s body in a hospital controlled by a hostile militia, you might thing he’d claim custody of the body.

But the story does serve to let “Jones” claim that he had just spoken about security with Stevens.

Read more

60 Minutes Writes the Final (?) Installment of the Benghazi Left Behind Novels

60 Minutes Left Behind NovelThe very last scene of 60 Minutes’ now-discredited “scoop” on Benghazi — in which the Project Manager (alternately described as the Security Manager) for the project, whom 60 Minutes names Morgan Jones and WaPo names Dylan Davies describes his own heroism that didn’t appear in the official report — features a 60 Minutes cameraman “discovering” Ambassador Chris Stevens’ itinerary for September 12.

The discovery is just the latest in a series of what I call “Left Behind” novels associated with the Benghazi story — the remarkable discovery by media outlets of paper documents left behind the scene of the crime. Other instances are:

And now we’re supposed to believe that over two years a year after the attack on Benghazi, journalists are still finding paper documents that magically survived a fire that killed State IT guy Sean Smith and would lead to the death of Chris Stevens.

WaPo version of Stevens Itinerary What’s interesting is this latest Left Behind novel purports to be one of the very same documents the WaPo found on October 3 — Chris Stevens’ itinerary. Except it differs in content, showing Stevens meeting with the Arabian Gulf Oil Company rather than the Italian Consul.

There’s nothing inherently suspicious about there being two different versions of Stevens’ itinerary. The WaPo version includes hand-written additions, as if it were a draft. But I do find it remarkable that these documents keep appearing in a compound that got devastated by fire and then lay unguarded for years.

Oh. One more thing. Almost every single document that was “found” by these journalists could have been a Blue Mountain Group document. Except, of course, Chris Stevens’ diary.

But I’ll come back to that in a later post.

Meanwhile, something major seems to be missing from the narrative of Dylan Davies AKA Morgan Jones.

In the latest narrative, he’s the one who “trained” security guards at the compound. Elsewhere, his role might better be described as the one who hired locals with zero fighting experience and paid them so little they would be easy to buy off and over five months on the ground never fixed this obvious problem. He’s also the one who hired two guys who earlier in the summer just happened to attack the compound.

Blue Mountain hired about 20 Libyan men – including some who say they had minimal training – to screen visitors and help patrol the mission at Benghazi, according to Reuters interviews.

Some of the guards sustained injuries and said they were ill-prepared to protect themselves or others when heavily armed militants last month stormed the rented villa that was serving as the mission.

They also described being hired by Blue Mountain after a casual recruiting and screening process.

State Department security officials had their own concerns about some of the guards at the mission months before the recent attack, according to emails obtained by Reuters this week. One guard who had been recently fired and another on the company’s payroll were suspected of throwing a homemade bomb into the U.S. compound in April. They were questioned but not charged.

[snip]

Several of Blue Mountain’s Libyan employees told Reuters that they had no prior security training or experience.

“I was never a revolutionary or a fighter, I have never picked up a weapon during the war or after it,” said Abdelaziz al-Majbiri, 28, who was shot in the legs during the September 11 assault.

The Libyan commander in charge of the local guards at the mission was a former English teacher who said he heard about Blue Mountain from a neighbor. “I don’t have a background in security, I’ve never held a gun in my life,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety.

When hired, the commander said he was told “you have great English and get along with everyone and are punctual; we want you to be a guard commander.”

Whatever else Blue Mountain Group was — and I think that remains an active question — it was a contractor that provided guard service that might be tailor made to make this kind of attack on the compound easy as pie. I’m flabbergasted that this hasn’t been a more central part of efforts to figure out who Dylan Davies AKA Morgan Jones is and why he might be coming forward with a dramatically different story now.

One final point, for now.

Read more

Has John McCain Been Chatting Up Bibi on a Tapped Phone?

Even more than Dianne Feinstein’s so-called reversal on the NSA, I’m intrigued by  John McCain’s.

“We have always eavesdropped on people around the world. But the advance of technology has given us enormous capabilities, and I think you might make an argument that some of this capability has been very offensive both to us and to our allies,” McCain said. “Eavesdropping on someone’s private cellphone obviously is something that is offensive to the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.”

[snip]

“I think it may even call for a select committee, perhaps even bicameral, when you look at the damage that this has done to our relationship with some of our closest friends and allies,” said McCain, who was the unsuccessful GOP presidential nominee pitted against Obama in 2008. Still, McCain noted that foreign governments are not “innocent” because they also have spied on the U.S. government.

 

In the past, McCain hasn’t been uncritical in his comments on NSA, but he has used it to fearmonger about terrorists. More tellingly, he favors NSA taking the lead in Internet monitoring for domestic cybersecurity, effectively advocating for domestic spying. And yet now he’s squeamish because we’re wiretapping leaders of other countries?

Sure, it may be he’s just latching onto an issue to attack Obama on. Though who needs a new one given that 60 Minutes has resuscitated the old one?

Of course, McCain is the kind of guy who likes to freelance on foreign policy issues, frequently to pressure Obama from the right. And I can’t help but note that Bibi Netanyahu and Obama spoke today for no apparent reason aside from “regular consultations.”

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke by phone today as part of their regular consultations.  The two leaders discussed recent developments related to Iran, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and other regional issues.   The two leaders agreed to continue their close coordination on a range of security issues.

While there has been no public report that we tapped Bibi, and while I’m sure the Israelis take his security very seriously, he’s precisely the kind of frenemy I could see the government prioritizing. And while I’m sure Germany spies on us (ineffectively), McCain knows that Israel spies on (and hacks) us extensively, making it a more apt reference as a country that is itself not “innocent.”

Just a gut feel: when the Section 215 database got revealed, a wide range of Senators were up in arms until, in secret briefings, they all of a sudden learned something that calmed their nerves (I strongly believe NSA strips congressional numbers from the Section 215 database on intake). And I think it not outside the realm of possibility that McCain has shown newfound concern about NSA upon learning one of his interlocutors might be targeted as well.

Barb Mikulski and Stephen Preston Seem to Disagree Over Whether David Petraeus “Jerked Around” Congress

A big part of Stephen Preston’s response to Mark Udall’s questions about whether he supports adequate disclosure to Congress consists of insisting the CIA Directors he worked with — Leon Panetta, David Petraeus, presumably Mike Morell as Acting Director, and John Brennan — have supported full disclosure to Congress.

Doing a better job of congressional notification and ensuring the proper provision of information concerning covert action and other intelligence activities to the Intelligence Committees has been a top priority of the Directors under which I have served, starting with Director Panetta, and one that I have fully supported.

[snip]

What we regard as proper practice today is driven by faithful application of the National Security Act of 1947. It is also informed by the very high priority the Directors under which I have served have placed on doing a better job of congressional notification and ensuring the proper provision of information concerning covert action and other intelligence activities to the Intelligence Committees. To repeat, I have fully supported these efforts and, if confirmed, will be fully committed to such efforts with respect to the Armed Services Committees.

While it may or may not be true that the Directors under whom Preston has served have not engaged in the kind of manipulative briefings that characterized the torture program, every time I read these assurances from Preston I remembered what Barb Mikulski said at John Brennan’s confirmation hearing.

Now, I want to get to the job of the CIA director. I’m going to be blunt — and this would be no surprise to you, sir.

But I’ve been on this committee for more than 10 years. And with the exception of Mr. Panetta, I feel I’ve been jerked around by every CIA director.

I’ve either been misled, misrepresented, had to pull information out, often at the most minimal kind of way, from Tenet, with his little aluminum rods to tell us that we had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to Porter Goss, not worth coming.

You know the problems we’ve had with torture. The chair has spoken eloquently about it all the way.

And, quite frankly, during those questions, they were evaded, they were distorted, et cetera.

While she didn’t name him as she did Tenet and Goss, neither did she except David Petraeus, like she did Leon Panetta.

This would seem to suggest that Mikulski has a very different understanding of Petraeus’ commitment to briefing Congress than Preston claims to have.

What Kind of Intelligence Does the HIG Expect to Get from Anas al-Libi?

There has been all manner of commentary about the rendition and detention on a poorly functioning ship of Abu Anas al Libi. There are credulous claims about the humanity of the High Value Interrogation Group’s tactics that nevertheless remain officially classified. There’s the growing awareness that al-Libi’s case differs from Ahmed Warsame’s in several key ways. And then there’s John Bellinger, trolling the Obama Administration for violating rules the Bush Administration did not in superb fashion.

These are important questions. But they distract from another important question.

What kind of intelligence do they really expect to get from al-Libi?

The explanation for his capture has focused on his alleged role in the 1998 Embassy Bombings. While there are no statutes of limitation for murder, that’s nevertheless an event that took place over 15 years ago. Even some of the analysts we often rely on — not to mention his family — suggest he hasn’t had an active role in al Qaeda for over a decade, or at least since he returned home to Libya 2 years ago. Lisa Monaco offered weak claims about the importance of al-Libi.

During an appearance on PBS Newshour, Deputy National Security Adviser Lisa Monaco repeatedly referred to Abu Anas Al-Libi as a “member” of Al Qaeda. However, she stopped short of calling the Libyan-born Al-Libi a “senior operational leader”—a phrase which seemed to have special significance when the Justice Department evaluated the legality of lethal force against U.S. citizens and is also believed to apply to targeting of foreign nationals outside combat zones.

Newshour reporter Jeffrey Brown asked Monaco about whether Al-Libi posed an “imminent” threat to Americans, but Monaco wouldn’t say that and also seemed to avoid declaring that he was an Al-Qaeda operative or even a leader of the group.

“Al-Libi did pose a threat to the United States as a senior al-Qaida member and somebody who is also charged in an indictment for his role as part of the Al Qaeda worldwide conspiracy,” Monaco declared.

This is, at the least, a significant difference from Ahmed Ghailani (who was seized with an active cell in Pakistan and interrogated for years about that active cell before being tried for his role in the Embassy Bombings) and Ahmed Warsame (who was seized for his active role in working with AQAP and al-Shabaab), though it perhaps resembles Suleiman Abu Ghaith.

I’m not saying al-Libi had no active role in terrorism. The timing — the raid took place at the same time as the strike on Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, who allegedly helped plan attacks in Kenya — might suggest al-Libi played some role in the Westgate Mall attack and other operations in Africa.

Perhaps the most complete explanation for why al-Libi is a current threat is this description.

An unclassified report published in August 2012 highlighted al Qaeda’s strategy for building a fully operational network in Libya. The report (“Al Qaeda in Libya: A Profile”) was prepared by the federal research division of the Library of Congress (LOC) under an agreement with the Defense Department’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO). [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda’s plan for Libya highlighted in congressional report.]

Abu Anas al Libi has played a key role in al Qaeda’s plan for Libya, according to the report’s authors. He was described as the “builder of al Qaeda’s network in Libya.”

Al Qaeda’s senior leadership (AQSL) has “issued strategic guidance to followers in Libya and elsewhere to take advantage of the Libyan rebellion,” the report reads. AQSL ordered its followers to “gather weapons,” “establish training camps,” “build a network in secret,” “establish an Islamic state,” and “institute sharia” law in Libya.

Abu Anas al Libi was identified as the key liaison between AQSL and others inside Libya who were working for al Qaeda. “Reporting indicates that intense communications from AQSL are conducted through Abu Anas al Libi, who is believed to be an intermediary between [Ayman al] Zawahiri and jihadists in Libya,” the report notes.

Al Libi is “most likely involved in al Qaeda strategic planning and coordination between AQSL and Libyan Islamist militias who adhere to al Qaeda’s ideology,” the report continues.

Al Libi and his fellow al Qaeda operatives “have been conducting consultations with AQSL in Afghanistan and Pakistan about announcing the presence of a branch of the organization that will be led by returnees from Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, and by leading figures from the former LIFG.” The LIFG refers to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group formed in Libya in the 1990s.

The suggestion that al-Libi might be the liaison between Ayman al-Zawahiri and extremists in Libya (extremists we helped to overthrow Qaddafi) is more interesting, particularly given Libya’s public objections to al-Libi’s rendition. Perhaps the ultimate plan is to hold al-Libi responsible for Benghazi (though interrogating him in a floating prison might endanger any charges if he was involved, which would be a big problem given the need for some finality on Benghazi). But it might raise interesting questions about whether the extremists we helped in Libya really constitute al Qaeda, or instead constitute a legitimate force within that country.

As of now, however, the US public story is that we captured this guy who has been living in the open for two years for a crime he committed 15 years ago. And that instead of whisking him immediately to NY to stand trial for that crime, we are instead pissing off the Libyan government and nudging up against a slew of domestic and international laws by conducting a floating interrogation from which we might learn only decades old facts. If that’s the story (and again, I suspect the government at least claims there is more), it makes all the legal and ethical issues surrounding his detention all the more problematic.

Darrell Issa’s Net Worth Goes Up 152% in One Year

Screen shot 2013-09-17 at 1.23.12 PM

It is wealth inequality day, in which, on the same day, the Census Bureau releases information on poverty and CQ releases the list of richest members of Congress.

As for poverty: things didn’t get statistically worse, but things didn’t get better at all, not even with decreasing unemployment (which, admittedly, is largely about labor market participation). (In good news, President Obama today extended minimum wage and overtime protections to home healthcare workers, though he bizarrely delayed implementation of the rule until 2015.)

As for wealth, 50 members of Congress are worth $6.67 million or more.

No wonder they seem so distant from the worries of their constituents.

But the truly mind-blowing detail from CQ’s wealthiest list is the remarkable luck Darrell Issa had in the last year. In just the last year, his net worth has increased from $140.55 million to $355.38 million — or a net worth increase of 152.8%. (He also became the richest member, but would have anyway on account of John Kerry’s retirement.)

No wonder he gins up factually problematic attacks on the IRS.

Here’s how CQ describes Issa managed such a feat:

The longtime denizen of the 50 Richest list finally reached the No. 1 spot after making about $135 million in 2012, mostly from investments that swelled in a bull market.

[snip]

Issa appears to make his money in the stock market. He ended 2012 with at least $390 million in bonds and stocks. His true worth, however, could be far greater. Members of Congress aren’t obligated to disclose exact figures, only ranges, and Issa has seven accounts with a minimum of $50 million, which is the highest category available on standard disclosure forms.

Issa also has about $75 million in outstanding loans, owing at least $50 million to Merrill Lynch and $25 million to Union Bank. Whether he truly is the richest member of Congress actually depends on precisely how much money he owes to Merrill Lynch.

So in the last year in which insider trading was legal for members Congress, Darrell Issa managed to make at least $100 million.

And yet he believes Benghazi is the most urgent matter facing this country.

Mike Rogers: IRS Scandal Is Real, NSA Scandal Is Not; AP Collection Is a Dragnet, Section 215 Collection Is Not

One of the four members of Congress with greatest influence over this country’s “intelligence,” House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers, claims that the IRS scandal is real and the risk of NSA dragnet is not.

Rogers said Amash’s amendment, which stops the NSA from collecting data under the Patriot Act, was an attempt to take advantage of anger over recent scandals including the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups applying for tax exempt status and the Justice Department’s probe of Associated Press journalists in connection to a leak about a thwarted terrorist plot that originated in Yemen.

“It’s certainly inflammatory and certainly misleading,” Rogers said Wednesday in an interview on Michigan radio station WTKG 1230. “I think, he tried to take advantage at any rate of people’s anger of the IRS scandal, which is real, and the AP —Associated Press dragnet by the Attorney General, Benghazi —all of those things are very real and there’s no oversight function “What they’re talking about doing is turning off a program that after 9/11 we realized we missed —we the intelligence community- missed a huge clue.” [my emphasis]

Note, too, that Rogers calls the (completely inappropriate) collection of the phone records for 20 AP phone lines a “dragnet,” but somehow doesn’t think the collection of the phone records for every single American is also a dragnet.

Again, this dude plays a significant role in this country’s “intelligence.”

From there, Rogers declined into outright misinformation.

Rogers added that NSA’s telephone data collection program has helped thwart over 50 terrorist plots.

The Section 215 collection — the only thing that would be affected by the Amash-Conyers amendment — has had a role in (per Keith Alexander’s latest claims) 13 plots.

Not 50.

13.

I can’t think of a better way for Mike Rogers to demonstrate that these programs have insufficient oversight — in which the Intelligence Committees play a crucial role — than to open his yap and make such ludicrous statements.

Petraeus’ Coffee

Remember Jim’s question whether David Petraeus was withholding intelligence last year? And remember my observation that Dick Cheney’s propagandist had resuscitated Petraeus’ gripes about talking points? And remember my focus on the way the Intelligence Committees had become mere spokespeople for the Intelligence Community?

The WaPo adds to that thread. First, by pointing out that Petraeus responded to Dutch Ruppersberger’s (allegedly unsolicited) request for talking points by trying to include intelligence he hadn’t in his briefing.

“We had some new members on the committee, and we knew the press would be very aggressive on this, so we didn’t want any of them to make mistakes,” Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger III (Md.) said last week of his request in an account supported by Republican participants. “We didn’t want to jeopardize sources and methods, and we didn’t want to tip off the bad guys. That’s all.”

What Petraeus decided to do with that request is the pivotal moment in the controversy over the administration’s Benghazi talking points. It was from his initial input that all else flowed, resulting in 48 hours of intensive editing that congressional Republicans cite as evidence of a White House coverup.

A close reading of recently released government e-mails that were sent during the editing process, and interviews with senior officials from several government agencies, reveal Petraeus’s early role and ambitions in going well beyond the committee’s request, apparently to produce a set of talking points favorable to his image and his agency.

The information Petraeus ordered up when he returned to his Langley office that morning included far more than the minimalist version that Ruppersberger had requested. It included early classified intelligence assessments of who might be responsible for the attack and an account of prior CIA warnings — information that put Petraeus at odds with the State Department, the FBI and senior officials within his own agency.

And by claiming that the minimal talking points the NatSec establishment came up with didn’t meet Ruppersberger’s needs.

Morell responded with concern about whether Petraeus would approve the document, even after other agencies had signed off.

“Please run the points by the Director, then get them to HPSCI,” he wrote soon after. “I spoke to the Director earlier about State’s deep concerns about mentioning the warnings and the other work done on this, but you will want to reemphasize in your note to DCIA.”

Morell was right to be worried.

In an e-mail sent two hours later to Morell and others inside the agency, Petraeus wrote, “No mention of the cable to Cairo, either? Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this, then. . . [National Security Council] call, to be sure; however, this is certainly not what Vice Chairman Ruppersberger was hoping to get for unclas use.”

Asked about Petraeus’s warning, Ruppersberger said, “I’m not sure what he meant. I had no expectations.”

It appears, then, that Petraeus tried to use Ruppersberger’s request (which, I suspect, we’ll one day learn wasn’t all that spontaneous) as an opportunity to introduce new issues into the discussion, basically to save his own ass.

It sure looks like Petraeus was more involved in creating the opportunity for the talking points controversy than we have thus far confirmed.

Did Tommy Vietor Hang Out CIA on UndieBomb 2.0?

The same day that the White House released 94 pages of Benghazi emails, which not only show that most at CIA supported the talking points used by the Administration but also include annotations of the CIA roles involved that reveal far more about CIA’s structure than any FOIA response I’ve ever seen, Tommy Vietor went on the record about UndieBomb 2.0 with both the WaPo and MSNBC. It appears he did so to reinforce the fear-mongering language Eric Holder used (though like Holder, Vietor doesn’t explain why John Brennan got a promotion after contributing to such a damaging leak). He said this to WaPo.

Vietor said that it would be a mistake to dismiss the unauthorized disclosure because al-Qaeda failed to carry out its plot.

“We shouldn’t pretend that this leak of an unbelievably sensitive dangerous piece of information is okay because nobody died,” he said.

But the WaPo account also seems to serve (like the Benghazi email dump does) to place blame on CIA.

It answers a question I hinted at yesterday: whether the CIA and White House were on different pages on what to do with the AP story. Reportedly, after AP had given the CIA time to kill Fahd al-Quso (the WaPo doesn’t mention that was the purpose of the delay), CIA’s Mike Morell told the AP the security issue had been addressed, but asked for one more day. As AP considered that request, the White House overrode that discussion.

Michael J. Morell, the CIA’s deputy director, gave AP reporters some additional background information to persuade them to hold off, Vietor said. The agency needed several days more to protect what it had in the works.

Then, in a meeting on Monday, May 7, CIA officials reported that the national security concerns were “no longer an issue,” according to the individuals familiar with the discussion.

When the journalists rejected a plea to hold off longer, the CIA then offered a compromise. Would they wait a day if AP could have the story exclusively for an hour, with no government officials confirming it for that time?

The reporters left the meeting to discuss the idea with their editors. Within an hour, an administration official was on the line to AP’s offices.

The White House had quashed the one-hour offer as impossible. AP could have the story exclusively for five minutes before the White House made its own announcement. AP then rejected the request to postpone publication any longer.

This must be the crux of the animosity here. CIA told AP the danger had passed (though according to some reports, our informant was still in Yemen). At that point, the AP should have and ultimately did feel safe to publish. But then the White House made this ridiculous request, effectively refusing to let AP tell this story before the White House had a shot at it.

Which is why this claim, from Tommy Vietor, is so absurd.

But former White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor, recalling the discussion in the administration last year, said officials were simply realistic in their response to AP’s story. They knew that if it were published, the White House would have to address it with an official, detailed statement.

“There was not some press conference planned to take credit for this,” Vietor said in an interview. “There was certainly an understanding [that] we’d have to mitigate and triage this and offer context for other reporters.”

Jeebus Pete! If your idea of “mitigating and triaging” AP’s fairly complimentary story is to make it far, far worse by hinting about the infiltrator, you’re doing it wrong!

Vietor, who presumably had a role in setting up the conference all at which Brennan tipped off Richard Clarke (though according to Brennan, he did not sit in on the call), insists to MSNBC that telling someone we had “inside control” of this plot does not constitute a gigantic clue that the entire plot was just a sting.

Tommy Vietor, then chief national security spokesman for the White House, disputed the idea that Brennan disclosed sensitive details in his background briefing and said  it was “ridiculous” to equate Brennan’s use of the  phrase  “inside control” with having an “informant.”

It’s a nonsense claim, of course. Someone fucked up the “mitigating and triaging” process, and that’s what made this leak so dangerous, not AP’s initial story. But, presumably because AP didn’t let White House tell the official story before they reported their scoop (and did they plan on telling us all we had inside control on the op if they got to tell the story first?!?), the AP has, as far as we know, borne the brunt of the investigation into the leak.

For the moment let me reiterate two more details.

It appears that Vietor is blaming CIA for the way this went down. And guess what? The guy who blathered about “inside control” has now taken over the CIA.

Then there’s this. Eric Holder noted yesterday that the investigation into David Petraeus for leaking classified information — understood to be limited to his mistress Paula Broadwell, mind you — is ongoing. That means the FBI interview he had on April 10 was not sufficient to answer concerns about his involvement in leaking classified information.

It’s interesting this is coming down to a conflict between White House and CIA, isn’t it?

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