We’ve known for years now that the Bush administration’s WARONTERRAH is a nearly undisguised political framework designed to keep us discombobulated, keep the right people in power, and dismantle civil liberties. There doesn’t seem to be a single real tactic in their arsenal that will ever reduce, much less eliminate, terrorism. In fact, all they’ve succeeded in doing is increasing terrorism.
Now this morning comes the unsurprising news that the White House has, deliberately it seems, destroyed a valuable intelligence gathering avenue because the political goal was more expedient.
Leak Severed a Link to Al-Qaeda’s Secrets
Firm Says Administration’s Handling of Video Ruined Its Spying Efforts
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; Page A01
A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.
Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company’s Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.
The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group’s communications network.
“Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless,” said Rita Katz, the firm’s 44-year-old founder, who has garnered wide attention by publicizing statements and videos from extremist chat rooms and Web sites, while attracting controversy over the secrecy of SITE’s methodology. Her firm provides intelligence about terrorist groups to a wide range of paying clients, including private firms and military and intelligence agencies from the United States and several other countries.
… Around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, Katz sent both [deputy assistant to the president for homeland security] Leiter and [White House counsel] Fielding an e-mail with a link to a private SITE Web page containing the video and an English transcript. “Please understand the necessity for secrecy,” Katz wrote in her e-mail. “We ask you not to distribute . . . [as] it could harm our investigations.”
… within minutes of Katz’s e-mail to the White House, government-registered computers began downloading the video from SITE’s server, according to a log of file transfers. The records show dozens of downloads over the next three hours from computers with addresses registered to defense and intelligence agencies.
By midafternoon, several television news networks reported obtaining copies of the transcript. A copy posted around 3 p.m. on Fox News’s Web site referred to SITE and included page markers identical to those used by the group. “This confirms that the U.S. government was responsible for the leak of this document,” Katz wrote in an e-mail to Leiter at 5 p.m.
Al-Qaeda supporters, now alerted to the intrusion into their secret network, put up new obstacles that prevented SITE from gaining the kind of access it had obtained in the past, according to Katz. [Washington Post]
I can’t think of an administration in my lifetime that relied so heavily on “leaks” to push forward their agenda. The Bush White House is like a sieve. But of course, that suits their purposes. Which is more advantageous? Strengthening an intelligence operation that might lead to Osama bin Laden and his capture? Or getting a new video of Osama out there on Fox where it will remind the public of this dangerous man who can only be stopped by George Bush? More importantly, if Al-Qaeda were ever to be defeated, the money would stop flowing to Halliburton, Blackwater, and the other huge contractors — incidentally, all owned and operated by prominent Republicans.
Speaking of Blackwater, does anyone else await with bated breath the next chapter in the story? Just think about it: Iraq has ordered them out. Bush has been saying for years that Iraq is a democracy, that they must take control of their own country, that they are a sovereign nation. So, if the Iraqi government says it wants Blackwater out, what magnificent and masterful route will Bush take to keep them in? This will be interesting.