CIA Director John Brennan:
In mid-December 2013, Judicial Watch obtained and released the full transcript of a May 7, 2012, teleconference between then-White House top counterterror adviser (now CIA Director) John Brennan and various TV terrorism consultants in which Brennen revealed that the U.S. and its allies had “inside control over any plot” in its efforts to thwart a May 2012 terrorism bomb plot, thus blowing the cover on undercover agents within al Qaeda.
The Brennan revelation of “inside control” – an intelligence community euphemism for spies within an enemy operation – reportedly helped lead to the disclosure of a previously well-kept secret at the heart of a joint U.S.-British-Saudi undercover terrorism operation inside Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). According to to a Reuters May 18, 2012, report:
The next day’s headlines were filled with news of a U.S. spy planted inside Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who had acquired the latest, non-metallic model of the underwear bomb and handed it over to U.S. authorities.
At stake was an operation that could not have been more sensitive — the successful penetration by Western spies of AQAP, al Qaeda’s most creative and lethal affiliate. As a result of leaks, the undercover operation had to be shut down.
In the transcript obtained by Judicial Watch, Brennan led the teleconference where he addressed the top terror consultants for ABC, NBC, CNN, and CBS including Caitlin Hayden, Frances Townsend, Richard Clarke, Roger Cressey, and Juan Zarate. In an apparent attempt to soft-peddle the thwarted terrorist attack, Brennan twice exposed the covert operation; first at the outset of the call, then as the conference drew to a close:
BRENNAN: The device itself, as I think the FBI statement said quite clearly, never posed a threat to the American public or the public … Well, as we, well know, Al Qaeda has tried to carry out simultaneous types of attacks, and so we were confident that we had inside control over the – any plot that might have been associated with this device.
CLARKE: If it gets asked. There was no active threat because we had insider control.
BRENNAN: I would not disagree with the way you put that, at all.
It should also be noted that records obtained by Judicial Watch in May 2012, through a Freedom of Information lawsuit, indicate that Brennan helped orchestrate the administration’s attempt to influence the storyline of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.” A transcript of a July 14, 2011, meeting between Defense Department officials, including Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers, and filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reveals that Boal met directly with White House officials on at least two occasions regarding the film: “I took your guidance and spoke to the WH and had a good meeting with Brennan and McDonough and I plan to follow up with them; and they were forward leaning and interested in sharing their point of view; command and control; so that was great, thank you,” Boal said according to the transcript. During Brennan’s February 2013 CIA confirmation hearings, he confirmed he had met with Boal “on how White House officials viewed the opportunities and risks associated with a film about the raid that killed bin Laden.”
Brennan, of course, was not the only Obama administration official who attempted to curry favor with “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmakers. In early December Judicial Watch released more than 200 pages of documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including a previously unreleased CIA internal report, confirming that former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed classified information at a June 24, 2011, bin Laden assault awards ceremony attended by filmmaker Mark Boal. Significantly, the entire transcript of the Panetta speech provided to Judicial Watch by the CIA was classified “Top Secret.” More than 90 lines are redacted for security reasons, further confirming that significant portions of the speech should not have been made in front of the filmmaker who lacked top security clearance.