Continued from page 2

He denied that a statement he made in a conference call with former officials last year about the plot had compromised intelligence sources and methods.

The call had been arranged because the former officials were all going on news programs to discuss the foiling of the plot, which targeted U.S. aviation.

Mr. Brennan said, in a statement later repeated publicly by several of the former officials, that the United States had “inside control” of the plot and that the underwear bomb was never a threat to American aviation.

Later that day, news agencies broke the story that an a U.S. allied agency had an agent inside the AQAP cell planning the bombing.

Mr. Brennan said he needed to explain that the U.S. had “inside control,” because during the time of the plot — around the first anniversary of the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan — he and other officials had reassured that there was no specific actionable intelligence about threats or plots.

“We had said publicly that there was no active plot at the time of the bin Laden anniversary,” he said.

Mr. Brennan is a 25-year career intelligence officer who served in the Bush administration as the first head of the National Counterterrorism Center. In 2008, he was a close adviser to Mr. Obama in the Senate.