Over the White House's denials that any of its people let slip classified information about an operative inside this month's would-be underwear bomb plot, two Republican congressmen have asked the FBI to investigate the White House for the alleged leak.
Reuters' Mark Hosenball's follow-up to his Friday report says Rep. Peter King and Sen. Saxby Chambliss both sent requests to FBI director Robert Mueller on Monday, asking him to open an investigation into whether White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan inadvertently let slip that U.S. intelligence services had an insider in the plot by Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner. Mueller had already said he would investigate the origins of the leak, but he hadn't been asked to look into the White House, Hosenball reported Tuesday.
The White House refuted Hosenball's Friday story, with spokesman Tommy Vietor saying in an email to The Atlantic Wire over the weekend that "this is a case where a reporter thought he had a story, the facts didn’t back it up, but he clung to it anyway." Hosenball reported that Brennan had said on a conference call with former counter-terrorism advisers that the plot was never a threat because the U.S. had maintained "inside control" over it. But Vietor said it was a mischaracterization to interpret that as Brennan saying there was a man on the inside. He wrote:
John’s point, which we said publicly, was that the plot never presented a threat to public safety because we were able to monitor it and stop it at any time. It is well known that we use a range of intelligence capabilities to penetrate and monitor terrorist groups. None of these sources or methods was disclosed by this statement.
The White House has denied from the beginning that Brennan had leaked the role of an informant. Hosenball quoted an official statement on Friday that said "the egregious leak here was to the Associated Press," which first reported the foiled plot. But Hosenball pointed out that "The original AP story ... made no mention of an undercover informant or allied 'control' over the operation, indicating only that the fate of the would-be suicide bomber was unknown."
As The Atlantic Wire's John Hudson reported on Friday, Sen. Diane Feinstein had called for a criminal investigation into the leak. But her office said she was "satisfied that the matter is being taken seriously," and wouldn't be making any more moves. For now.