October 9, 2007

Leak Destroys Obelisk Penetration

UPDATE: The WaPo story says that Katz sent this to the White House on 9/7, but the ABC transcript is dated 9/6. Maybe that's why ABC credited "intelligence sources" rather than "senior White House officials" in its report. Apparently, the US already had the tape before SITE offered it to the White House. (Via Hot Air)

The leak of Osama bin Laden's video to the news media last month has shut down an important private penetration into al-Qaeda's communication network. SITE, run by an Israeli whose father was murdered by Saddam Hussein, shared the video with American intelligence on a confidential basis. Hours after its release to the public, observers watched as AQ shut down its Obelisk network as the terrorists realized it had been compromised:

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.

The precise source of the leak remains unknown. Government officials declined to be interviewed about the circumstances on the record, but they did not challenge Katz's version of events. They also said the incident had no effect on U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts and did not diminish the government's ability to anticipate attacks.

While acknowledging that SITE had achieved success, the officials said U.S. agencies have their own sophisticated means of watching al-Qaeda on the Web. "We have individuals in the right places dealing with all these issues, across all 16 intelligence agencies," said Ross Feinstein, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Eli Lake at the New York Sun has more information on what got lost in the leak:

But the disclosure from ABC and later other news organizations tipped off Qaeda's internal security division that the organization's Internet communications system, known among American intelligence analysts as Obelisk, was compromised. This network of Web sites serves not only as the distribution system for the videos produced by Al Qaeda's production company, As-Sahab, but also as the equivalent of a corporate intranet, dealing with such mundane matters as expense reporting and clerical memos to mid- and lower-level Qaeda operatives throughout the world.

While intranets are usually based on servers in a discrete physical location, Obelisk is a series of sites all over the Web, often with fake names, in some cases sites that are not even known by their proprietors to have been hacked by Al Qaeda.

One intelligence officer who requested anonymity said in an interview last week that the intelligence community watched in real time the shutdown of the Obelisk system. America's Obelisk watchers even saw the order to shut down the system delivered from Qaeda's internal security to a team of technical workers in Malaysia. That was the last internal message America's intelligence community saw. "We saw the whole thing shut down because of this leak," the official said. "We lost an important keyhole into the enemy."

The release of the Osama tape turned out to be even less significant than first thought. At the time, the tape clearly intended to coordinate the launch of at least three terrorist attacks in the second week of September. The effort was timed to coincide with September 11th, the sixth anniversary of 9/11. The leaks put the tapes out days earlier, and in the meantime, Western agencies had already rolled up the cells planning the attacks.

The US government insists that the leak did no real damage to their intel capabilities. However, the two independent reports, especially Lake's, demonstrates at least a temporary setback in acccessing AQ's Internet activities. If the reports are true, then SITE and the intel agencies will have to rediscover AQ's network of servers, figure out how to hack back into the networks, and re-establish the identities of those who run them. That could take a very long time, and in the interim, we could be missing some vital information.

The NSA has undoubtedly already started checking communications to track down all of the new activity, and there may be greater vulnerability for AQ during its launch. It could be that the US wanted to rattle AQ and get them to dismantle their systems, and leaked the Osama tape to both embarrass them and to get them to panic and leave a big trail. It could have been an attempt to force AQ into a mole hunt, a technique both sides used in the Cold War.

Let's not forget that the destruction of the Obelisk network will have created difficulties for AQ, too. It will have increased their reliance on human couriers for messaging. The US may have wanted to force AQ into using those in order to finalize a position on AQ leadership, or on other management assets in the terrorist organization. Forcing them to dismantle their network may have given the US an opportunity to triangulate through conventional means on Osama himself, or Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Or it could just have been stunning incompetence. More will undoubtedly be forthcoming on this story, and we'll need more details to really know what happened.


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Comments (50)

Posted by AW1 Tim | October 9, 2007 7:22 AM


There's also the possibility that AQ went ahead and released the tape, knowing it's cells were compromised, as a means of confirming that their own network was compromised.

The easiest way to see if you have a leak and where it is is to simply send out a message through every channel you operate, and subtley change a small part of each message. If you have a leak, the message will show up somewhere, and which version will tell you who leaked the meassage.


Posted by ajacksonian | October 9, 2007 7:54 AM

"Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence." - Napoleon Bonaparte

Indeed this may have been an AQ operation to ensure that their system was compromised, as Tim puts forward. After the sudden warning that their camps were being targeted earlier this year and AQ leaving them, along with some Taliban camps, the suspicion may have been on their side of things that their INTEL gathering and distribution system were *both* compromised. We wouldn't expect to hear about that, however, as an internal 'clean-up' operation will not be highlighted by AQ: putting forward that your command, control and logistics systems are compromised does not instill confidence in the rank and file.

That said their top internet expert was picked up a couple of years ago and I expect that his knowledge of plans and back-ups is still available as his computers and documentation also went with him. Any competent individual in this field will have an alternate fail-over system in-place or readily available for start up. Depending on sophistication of AQ, that may be an entirely separate set of individuals for added security.

If this was a deliberate leak, the expectation is to see a large number of coordinated police actions against the AQ operatives running the Obelisk network on a global scale. So far no flurry of news reports on that... indicating that this was not intentional on the part of Western INTEL sources.

Finally there is the ephemeral P2P money laundering system of which the hawala type network is descriptive of operation, but still present in multiple communities. Along with that are other, even more sophisticated systems, for moving and tracking money and goods, like the Black Market Peso Exchange system, which is also descriptive of a network type. Both of these are 'known' system types, but actually knowing that they exist and finding them are two entirely different matters. By relying on P2P and ethnic based contacts of trusted individuals due to communities, AQ can utilize that type of system not only for money transfers and accounting, but command and control. Neither are 'courier' based systems, but are highly secure by brevity of contact and non-causal shifts in funds and information on a very low level.

From observation of how these systems work, it can be gathered that after decades of trying to scope them out, the combined resources of multiple nations have failed to address them or even compensate for them. That is due to the community and P2P basis for such systems and that varies widely by community and ethnic origin. Rolling up a number of individuals does not hamper the system as a whole, due to the natural fail-over state of alternative individuals who are trusted, and the difficulty of law enforcement to get external cooperation in monitoring, arresting and prosecuting such individuals. Even worse the BMPE concept skips in and out of the 'white' world of economics and messaging on what is an inherently random basis. Consider it a personal system with point-to-point protocol where messages shift closer to their destination on each transfer, but picking up the individual traces of it is difficult because they are non-uniform in messaging type.

AQ has proven resourceful in leveraging its use of technology and concepts, even when its view of their basis and outcome of same are distorted. If they move to a white market goods for black market transfers of cash systems for logistics and information, they will be hampered, yes. But those systems have proven highly resistant to thousands of analysts, untold amount of computer time, heavy law enforcement and INTEL examination over time.

Posted by Dennis Skayhan | October 9, 2007 8:16 AM

Perhaps I missed something, but could it actually be the case that the United States government recieved this "Tape" from a private source. How? What I mean is not that a private and very useful organization could not do it, but rather how could it be the case that the government wasn't already crawling all over AQ's intranet? Did we actually need to be supplied with this video from a private source? The idea that the government would not already have the enemy's communication system under a microscope and therefore have the video on their own is shocking to me.

Posted by TimPundit | October 9, 2007 8:19 AM

Leave it to the nimrods in the Bush administration to leak this stuff. Notice it wasn't leaked until after they got the recording. Is there anything they can actually do to help America? Is there anything, other than spending taxdollars that they have any comretence at all? Retarded circus chimps could run the country better than these clowns.


Posted by JeanneB | October 9, 2007 8:29 AM


Funny, but I had the exact opposite reaction. I attribute the leak to some Bush-hater (like you) inside the bureacracy.

It certainly wouldn't be the first time they leaked sensitive classified info to a) thwart the president's policies, b) embarrass the administration, or c) both.

Posted by JLawson | October 9, 2007 8:31 AM

Uh, Tim? They couldn't very well leak it BEFORE they got it, could they?

And as to who - I'd be looking at some low-level flunky who suddenly got a boost to his bank account from some media go-between. And who probably thinks of himself as a loyal member of the Democratic Party, leaking this because "The Pee-Pull have a RIGHT to know!"

Posted by Jeffrey | October 9, 2007 8:39 AM

Amazing how the original story in the Washington Post was very specific about who the SITE director contacted about her acquisition - the White House. In fact, she was criticized for it after the fact by another private intel firm, INTELCENTER because she took that unusual step instead of providing the video directly to members of the Intelligence Community. Yet in your coverage of the story, the White House has been replaced by "American intelligence". That's a whopper of a mis-statement, Ed. Why would you obfuscate the story like that?

Posted by HolyMoly | October 9, 2007 8:41 AM

Uh, JLawson? Do u really think that the Bush Administration would keep silent about this if a "loyal member of the Democratic Party" leaked this? I have no love for the left but get a grip JLawson, the Bush Administration is like the "Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight". We will all be better off when they leave town, Jan 2009. Until then grab your bootstraps J, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Posted by Sniper One | October 9, 2007 8:47 AM

Yeah, it's not like any Democratic President sent nuclear secrets to China... or any Democratic Congressmen conspired with the Soviets to try and win an election... or any Democratic Congressmen ever smeared Marines "In Cold Blood"... or any (former) Democratic Presidential candidate ever gave assistance to the North Koreans in France...

Plenty of blame to go around.

Posted by hunter | October 9, 2007 8:56 AM

My first reaction was pretty ahrsh on all involved in the leak - from whoever received it to ABCnews.
But there are games within games here, and I think we should all check our outrage - from whatever side we are on- until a lot more is understood. And that may take years.

Posted by Richard Aubrey | October 9, 2007 9:01 AM

Holy Moly.
What kind of noise do you expect?

Considering the leaks of other classified stuff which damages US interests, it has to be loyal democrats. See State and CIA.

Posted by Rose | October 9, 2007 9:07 AM

This apparently also explains the Dim desperation to get a Journalist SHIELD law into place this month, to protect journalists who shield their ANONYMOUS GOVT SOURCES WHO LEAK CLASSIFIED INFORMATION in a TREASONOUS manner.


Posted by Rose | October 9, 2007 9:21 AM

Posted by JeanneB | October 9, 2007 8:29 AM


Funny, but I had the exact opposite reaction. I attribute the leak to some Bush-hater (like you) inside the bureacracy.

It certainly wouldn't be the first time they leaked sensitive classified info to a) thwart the president's policies, b) embarrass the administration, or c) both.



Once may be an accident, twice may be incompetence...

...consistency like this - DIMS and RINOS.

Posted by unclesmrgol | October 9, 2007 9:45 AM

Amusing. AQ now has verification from SITE via the Washington Post that its network was compromised.

If nobody had verified where the video came from, if noone said a word, might not have AQ acted differently? Now they know. There is no "plausible deniability" after this exposure.

If SITE hadn't gone public with their game, AQ might have reused segments of the old network (especially if they thought the server had just been hacked by a private gang), but Rita Katz herself put the kabosh on that.

The WaPo wants to rub dirt in the face of the "Bush Administration". In actuality, the dirt is on Katz's and the WaPo's face.

In the intelligence game, you never tell the enemy they've scored anything!

Posted by Mike M. | October 9, 2007 9:47 AM

I agree with JeanneB. If I had to bet, it would be on a rabid anti-Bush career federal employee who's personally invested in undermining our war against the radical Islamist terrorists by any means necessary.

It's time to reinstate the sedition laws and to begin prosecuting the domestic enemies within our own country.

Posted by Corky Boyd | October 9, 2007 9:49 AM

This information was developed by a private non-government organization staffed by non-cleared people. They passed on unclassifed information to the US govenment. They asked that it be kept confidential, but they have no authority to classify the information.

This sounds like another al Qaaqaa story designed to embarass the adminsitration. First, if they were able to obtain the information, no doubt NSA has it too. They are also jumping the gun and assuming facts not in evidence, that it was the government who "leaked" this unclassified information.

In several prior instances the government has hinted bin landen tapes are on the way without AQ webites "going dark". SITE's information appears to be low level and could be obtained by anyone, provided they can read arabic.

I don't know SITE's political bent, but it appears this is a manufactured incident designed to embarrass the administration, similar to al Qaaqaa.

In short this is unclassified information.

Posted by Teresa | October 9, 2007 9:56 AM

MikeM says, "If I had to bet, it would be on a rabid anti-Bush career federal employee who's personally invested in undermining our war against the radical Islamist terrorists by any means necessary."

Yeah, because the Bush White House has never politicized terror threats. Remember the run up to the last election with all the "code orange" threat levels? Always timed anytime that John Kerry started to go ahead in the polls, but never actually backed up by any facts? Amazing how all of that magically stopped after the election. Puhleeze. Bush wanted this tape out there to shore up his sagging poll numbers.

Posted by TimPundit | October 9, 2007 9:57 AM

Isn't it a sad state of affairs when security secrets can't be trusted with the politicians at the White House?

I mean, we know this WH uses leaks to the press to discredit what they don't like. And we know they use it to try to discredit people. And we know they get intelligence reports and cherry pick what they wish to be public...by leaking the chosen information.

But, it's just plain sad that you can't trust the White House with national secrets involving our enemy Al Queda. What is this world coming to, mhen your own President is helping the enemy? Sad.

Posted by viking01 | October 9, 2007 10:12 AM

Well I guess that's two seminar postings in a row peddling the old "right-wing conspiracy" dreck. If they don't then George Soros and moveon.org won't pat their heads and give them a snack. Roll over and beg.

Speaking of timing... Has Kerry perchance signed the release for his military records as he promised in 2004? Didn't think so. There must be some PaperMate / Halliburton conspiracy to keep stealing John Kerry's ink pens so he can't sign the SF180! It couldn't be Karl Rove because he was too busy planning Hurricane Katrina.

I'm investing heavily in aluminum futures because the Left obviously needs far more tin foil hats.

Posted by Earlg | October 9, 2007 10:15 AM


…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.

According to WaPo‘s own account the chain of events should appear: Site → Bush Admin → Intelligence Agencies → Media. Yet somehow WaPo makes one of its swashbuckling, fantasy leaps from the Admin to the media without evidence or attribution.

Berry interesting but really the SoS coming from WaPo.

@ Corky,

Precisely because this was non-classified it actually presents numerous possibilities, one being it should be quite easy to determine the leaker(s) without damaging any Intel operations or, too badly, any specific agency - especially with what we know and have experienced with one in particular.

Posted by docjim505 | October 9, 2007 10:25 AM

We may never know exactly what happened in this case. Is this a phony story designed to scare al Qaeda into changing their communications methods so we can get a bead on them or just temporarily disrupt their operations? Or is al Qaeda running some sort of scam to ferret out leaks in their organization and system or test their own security? Did some malcontent in the government leak the story for political reasons, or did some loudmouth (think Richard Armitage) tell a reporter with the mistaken idea that this was common knowledge?

We may never know. In fact, we probably never WILL know. Consider Cap'n Ed's post a day or two ago about the secret interrogation team during World War II: this information is only now coming to light, more than sixty years later. It may be that some historian a century from now will get the whole story on OBELISK... but I doubt it.

Posted by whippoorwil | October 9, 2007 10:42 AM

To soon to tell where the leak came from but appears the likely place is the WH with Fred Fielding's timeline suspect. I love it when righties instantly point to dems as the culprits in a republican administration. It's not like there are any disaffected republicans behind the leaks. But they'd be RINO's ugh.

Posted by Hugh Beaumont | October 9, 2007 10:47 AM

Looks like the the George Soros MoveOn talking point crew is hitting the blogs early this morning.

TimPundit must have received his "funds".

I guess this is what those ads in the back of those magazines are for; "make money at home, working from your computer".

Great stuff.

Posted by Carol Herman | October 9, 2007 11:03 AM

Okay, so the terrorists "shut it down."

At least we know Bandar stopped getting this information from Bush, in private chats, standing outside the family quarters, on the balcony, smoking cigars. (Like you'd suggest if you were playing CLUE.)

Okey Dokey. The morons shut it down. And, then? Well, I guess they took two empty cans ... attached string. And, sent one dude to a new location. So they could "keep on talking."

No matter what model you use in intelligence gathering, the BEST ONE is not to fall into the habit of repeating yourself. So that you're leaving a trail.

And, if Israel's learned anything, it did learn from its victories, where it gobbled up arab space. And, then got mired down.

Even Arik Sharon, in 1982, discovered that battles into Beirut wasn't everything. Getting rid of Arafat from Beirut, and sending him to Tunis? Didn't improve relations between Israel, and any other country.

So, you have, here, a "leak" ... that's supposed to have turned our CIA on its head.


Today, up at InstaPundit, is a leak, where a Marine had to climb over the wall, in San Diego, that separates the miliary from the police. Because, according to the lawyers; what you have to watch out for are the "cases you'll bring, later. To trial. Gosh, darn it. You don't want to contaminate that crap, now.

And, so the WALL that Gorelick built is still in place. And, the bad guys are taking full advantage.

Except for this one marine. Who got caught. And, now faces 26 months in prison.

I dare you. Go to InstaPundit and check this out. It's under the link about a "strange spy case in San Diego."

As to electronic surveillance, unless you're "scouting out a bank to rob," it really, really pays to keep your opponents guessing. It should never bo so easy as doing something that's years old.

Just because the arabs are too stupid to keep changing technology. Which they didn't invent, in the first place.

As to newspapers, you could make things up, and it would give you far superior results; in the actually coming true, department.

(Ah, here I'll place you a bet. Since the Israelies are good with technology. And, this summer they let a mystery ship bring nuke materials, called "cement" into syria ... And, nothing happened for 3 days ...

How much time did the electronic transfers need to be diverted? The ship's disappeared, by the way.

Posted by Publius Hamilton | October 9, 2007 11:42 AM

When all the hysteria and partisan bickering and point scoring is over, we will remain where we were. The Grand Old Game of Intel goes on. None of us know the real story or the whole truth. The best we can do is focus on the facts and not conjecture...

I recall a line from Frank Herbert's incredible Dune series about "a feint within a feint"...

Posted by TimPundit | October 9, 2007 11:53 AM

"TimPundit must have received his "funds"."

No, I haven't, and I'm not sure what you are talking about, but then, I'm never sure what the Bush Apologists mean anymore.

And neither does the rest of America. All we Americans know is that once again, the country would be far better off without Bush in the White and certainly without his anus-snugglers apologizing for his incompetnece all the time.

Posted by TimPundit | October 9, 2007 11:57 AM

Maybe all this National Securty stuff should be kept out of Bush's hands.

At least until he can prove to America that he is adult enough to handle it with the seriousness it deserves. Perhaps start him off with a puppy. If he takes good care of the puppy, then maybe we can start letting him sit in meetings. On a trial basis, mind you, to see if he can keep his mouth shut.

468 days to go. You'd think he and his cronies can't fuck up too much more in that time.

Posted by AW1 Tim | October 9, 2007 12:01 PM


Well, to set the record straight here, The first dew posters seem to have misunderstood my comments, or perhaps I put them forward too poorly.

My point was that perhaps it was AQ itself that went ahead with releasing the tape through the usualy internet & media sources, in order to see where it's IT network was compromised.

AQ saw some of it's ops being rolled up in a rather coordinated manner. That means someone close to home was involved. So why not then gin up a new video from the boss, and tell a few folks that you'll be releasing it a select few, and then set back and see who ACTUALLY got it first? That's a very good way to know where your leaker is, or at least in what department it's occuring. It's especially valid if you ever so slightly alter each copy, then look to see which copy got outed to the Americans first.

As to my being a "Bush-hater", well, having voted for the man twice, I think that's hardly the case. I think he's dooing an exceptionally poor PR campaign about why we are fighting, and what we as a population can do to help out. I also disagree strongly with his amnesty plans for illegals. But I personally like the fellow and fully support his action against the Islamic thugocracy.


Posted by Jack Okie | October 9, 2007 12:14 PM

So TimPundit:

You're equally exercised about the NYT exposing the bank data mining, right?


Yeah, the terror alerts really smacked Kerry's campaign (snort). BTW, I can't remember when he signed his form 180 and released his military records (as he told Tim Russert he would do). Refresh my memory, will you?

Posted by jerry | October 9, 2007 12:16 PM


I presume by" "...I mean, we know this WH uses leaks to the press to discredit what they don't like. And we know they use it to try to discredit people..." you mean Valarie Plame/Joe Wilson. You obviously haven’t seen Robert Novak's comments to a gathering of journalists about how he came to the decision to reveal Plame's name. It was Joe Wilson who told Novak to go ahead and do it because he was more concerned about his own reputation then his wife’s safety. Novak wouldn't have done it, even though he also heard it from Richard Armitage first, unless Joe Wilson gave him the nod. I think we now know all that there is about the leak. There was no White House conspiracy or campaign to "out" Plame. It was the combination of a gossip (Armitage) and venality (Wilson) that generated the entire flap. Once again the nutroots show how they got their name.


Posted by Joey B. | October 9, 2007 12:17 PM

Looks like the the George Soros MoveOn talking point crew is hitting the blogs early this morning.

To George Soros and his F-Bomb dropping leftie minions, this is all just a big game, to try and retake full control of government at any cost.

And if the country suffers or is made more vulnerable, well, to them that's just acceptable collateral damage.

Posted by whippoorwil | October 9, 2007 12:34 PM

"You obviously haven’t seen Robert Novak's comments to a gathering of journalists about how he came to the decision to reveal Plame's name. It was Joe Wilson who told Novak to go ahead and do it because he was more concerned about his own reputation then his wife’s safety."

Now your starting believe your own lies Jerry. And Novak is a traitorous dirtbag who knowingly outed a NOC CIA "operative" agent and now you and Novak are trying to blame Joe Wilson-typical. Your post is crap.

Posted by KMan | October 9, 2007 12:39 PM

In reading all of the lefty blogs, I very much enjoy the fact that

1) the same liberal tinfoil assclowns who argue that BushCo invents terror threats to scare the American people and force them vote Republican are now INCENSED THAT HE LEAKED NATIONAL SECURITY SECRETS TO OUR ENEMY WHO WANTS TO KILL US!! and

2) it's OK for the NYTimes to write front page articles revealing how the US tracks foreign fund transfers among terrorists and sponsors, and front page stories about how the NSA listens to phone calls of suspected international terrorists, but this is beyond the pale, even for those incompetent BUSHITLER FASCISTS! (Well, at least it is until it comes out that a CIA operative leaked it attempted to harm the Bush administration - then it was simply 'supporting the public's right to know.')

The irony would be delicious, if it wasn't so depressing to me that there are so many stupid people in our country.

Posted by jerry | October 9, 2007 12:49 PM

Whipper birdbrain.

It was established by none other then Patrick Fitzgerald that DEPDSECSTATE Richard Armitage "outed" her to Novak. Although her status may have been classifed Plame served only briefly as a NOC because a Soviet mole in the agency outed her entire class as well as several others.

Posted by Cassandra | October 9, 2007 1:07 PM

Maybe I am missing something, but the WaPo article states the page markers indicated the ABC transcript pages came from the SITE server.

If this is correct, the date marking doesn't "prove" the White House had the transcript earlier than Oct. 7th - only that SITE did.

Posted by whippoorwil | October 9, 2007 1:30 PM


I was talking about Joe Wilson giving Novak the go ahead to print his article. That's a bald faced lie.

Armitage was the first to tell Novak but he wasn't the only one in the Bush Admin. to out Plame before Novak printed his article.

And the part about Plame not being a NOC at the time Novak printed his traitorous hit piece is also a bald face lie.

Oh, and about your smartass take on my handle, you can shove that where the sun don't shine.

Posted by jerry | October 9, 2007 1:42 PM


If Novak is lying about Wilson then why didn't Fitzgerald prosecute him for perjury? This is what he told Fitzgerald.

I will let your opinion on Plame's status go without comment. It betrays your lack of knowledge of how intelligence agencies operate. Someone operating under non-official cover doesn't show up for work at Langley.

Fotzgerald's invesitgation clearly established that Armitage was the first government official to reveal Plame as an employee of the CIA.

Posted by whippoorwil | October 9, 2007 1:58 PM


I stand by my arguments even faced with the genius of you.

Posted by jerry | October 9, 2007 2:00 PM


Foolish consistancy is the mark of a small mind.

Posted by essucht | October 9, 2007 2:21 PM

There was no White House conspiracy or campaign to "out" Plame. It was the combination of a gossip (Armitage) and venality (Wilson) that generated the entire flap.

I'm not sure it was just Joseph Wilson's ego that motivated him to print his false story in the NYT. Joseph Wilson, like many ex-state dept hacks, works for the Saudis through a front "think tank" (Middle East Institute).

I remember the Saudis ran through a few of their pawns trying to get something to stop Bush and failed - remember all the petitions and such from former state department officials opposing the war in its long run up? Of course none of the Saudis' other retainers happened to have a wife that could get them sent on an official CIA mission.

Posted by doubled | October 9, 2007 2:42 PM

Whippoorwil- I can understand your aversion to believing the press(although i doubt it transfers to say CNN, even though they bastardized their Iraq coverage for access during Sadaam's reign).

What I don't understand is your blind faith in Joe Wilson. A guy who went to ONE country in Africa for 2 weeks and having sipped tea with someone or another declares that Sadaam never ever tried to obtain yellowcake from the CONTINENT of Africa. Then takes his 'discovery' and instead of letting it go through government channels as is protocol, LEAKS it instead to the NY Times. Then goes on a media tour including the cover of Vanity Fair.

How you find such a person credible is beyond my comprehension.

Posted by TimPundit | October 9, 2007 3:38 PM

"I presume by..."

Yes, that's one example of the WH leaking shit for political purposes... Why? are you that naive that you don't think it's happened before?

Posted by essucht | October 9, 2007 4:59 PM

A guy who went to ONE country in Africa for 2 weeks and having sipped tea with someone or another declares that Sadaam never ever tried to obtain yellowcake from the CONTINENT of Africa

Actually, Wilson's contact told him Hussein had tried to buy yellowcake, and Wilson reported that to the CIA when he came back.

The CIA already knew about Hussein's attempted purchase of yellowcake independent of Wilson's report, and frankly his "investigation" was a joke, even considering Wilson's complete lack of experience in field intelligence work.

Wilson would famously change his tune once he started working with the MSM, I guess presuming the truth of his original report would never come out.

Posted by Carol Herman | October 9, 2007 5:19 PM

Well, let's see.

Syria had nukes, enough, for Israel to do a flying leap over the syrian desert. And, dropping a U-Tube, or something. BOOM. No more nukes.

As well as that work accident, that occurred on July 23rd. Not such a surprise that arabs have work accidents. But among those gassed? When the syrians were "filling" their rockets with nerve gas? Must have made for an interesting collection of body bags, that got flown to foreign countries. Hush. Hush.

While the least likely scenario, has arabs who developed scientific minds; and created the whole thing out of whole cloth.

Not so fast, there, though.

Because Saddam worked on nukes. Or the 1982 story about Osirik? Maybe, it happened in a dream sequence, huh?

And, maybe, when Hans Blix was "looking for WMDs' ... he missed the trucks that rolled out ... to syria. Was this a downhill journey? Or what?

Well,it didn't escape Israeli attention, you know. Or, at least "you suspect."

While tne one thing good politicians discount, are popularity polls. Why would they matter?

Sticking your finger up in the air to see which way the wind is blowing is stupid. A good wind surge can up-end you off your feet.

And, finger licking does not make anyone a good leader. Not even if you do "a fake" and pull the bubble gum out of your mouth in one long strand.

Once elected the person who wins, LEADS.

Were you sold on the idea it mattered that the press liked ya?

What hokum. In Lincoln's time the press was brutal.

Shows ya, though. History credits the DO-ERS.

Let me tell ya, for Israel to have accomplished as much as it did this summer, took lots of cooperation between Olmert and Bush. Better than all the bullshit you'd get in a Vanity Fair spread.

Even more impressive. Has nothing to do with popularity.

Shared goals, however, brings lots of people together.

Posted by Darren Duvall | October 9, 2007 6:56 PM

The multiple-copy trick to find the leaker should be testable, assuming that IntelCenter, Laura Mansfield, SITE and others inside the government got their copies from different sources. If they all got it from the same site, that's probably not a good thing.

The CIA did pull a real nifty job in Pakistan in 2001-2002 by putting a couple of CIA-friendly Pakistanis into a storefront hawala operation in place of the Islamist owner (he involuntarily received other accomodiations in the UAE), and built up a rather nice database of connections that way. They couldn't keep the "We're cousins of the guy you normally deal with" ruse up forever, but it was handy while it lasted. IIRC this is in The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Susskind. The CIA is actually capable of pulling man-in-the-middle ops when they need to do so.

The best outcome would be that this was an intentional leak to get AQ to shut down and migrate to servers or networks that are even easier for NSA and others to penetrate. All that takes is a couple of "cousins" with data center access and carefully manufactured bonafides to become buddies with known AQ system administrators. As long as you know who the sysadmins are, the access to their systems is worth leaving them free to roam.

ABC had what appears to be the same transcipt posted on The Blotter before SITE gave it to the White House. The leak apparently didn't occur in the order WaPo says it did.

Leaks aren't good, unless they're serving a larger purpose -- like making AQ scramble for cover and maybe execute some valuable people in the process.

Posted by James | October 9, 2007 8:00 PM

>...we'll need more details to really know what happened.

Incorrect post Ed. Ockham's razor is operational here: Someone in Bush Admin leaked destroying valuable method in defending U.S.

But what the hey, that's what Bush's Admin is all about anyway.

Posted by graywolf | October 9, 2007 8:46 PM

Tim said:
"But, it's just plain sad that you can't trust the White House with national secrets involving our enemy Al Queda. What is this world coming to, mhen your own President is helping the enemy? Sad."

As opposed to the dem Cong - whose members of Congress give aid and comfort to the enemy every day?

How about such "patriots" as Harry Reid, John Kerry, Dick Turbin and the rest of that bunch of traitor scum, Timmy?

Posted by whippoorwill | October 10, 2007 7:56 AM

Doubled says'

"How you find such a person credible is beyond my comprehension"

As long as all you have are regurgitated right wing talking points your "comprehension" isn't much to speak of.

Posted by doubled | October 10, 2007 10:55 AM

Whippoorwil retorts: "As long as all you have are regurgitated right wing talking points your "comprehension" isn't much to speak of."

All I've seen you spout are left-wing talking points , but of course, this makes your 'comprehension' vastly superior to mine. I couln't care lees what you or anyone else thinks my comprehension skills are. The funny thing is that leftists always have to be seen as the 'smartest' guy in the room. Must suck to go through life with such a severe need to be seen as better than everyone else.

Posted by J.Gocht | October 10, 2007 7:48 PM

..."Listen to the enemy," [President] Bush says, as we are urged to remain bogged down in Iraq; even as the terrorists run free in the mountains of Afghanistan, taunting us with their videotaped manifestos which Bush so obediently and contentedly dictates to Americans. [for political expedience...?]


Olde soldier notes... Consider this recent "leak" of AQ intel...U.S. Intelligence Officials Will Probe Leak of Bin Laden Video... http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/09/AR2007100902055_pf.html
"leak indeed...!"


The White House has persisted in their effort to justify their continued diversion of the overwhelming bulk of our nation's ready-defenses to Iraq -- even as they admitted the leaders of the organization they described as "the most serious and dangerous" terrorist threat facing the country were enjoying "safe haven," 100's of miles away from the Iraq occupation they are so obsessed with maintaining.

Fran Townsend, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, brushed off questions about the Iraq diversion with her own admission that she, herself, is listening to the terrorists and formulating policy according to their taunts and rhetorical threats.

"There is no question now that you see, and we know by their own words, by bin Laden's and Zawahiri's own statements, they view the battle in Iraq as a fundamental battle for them," Townsend told reporters yesterday. "So we face them there," she said.


Olde soldier notes, [very kindly] again...

Dear Ms Townsend, the reason OBL and Zawahiri see Iraq as a fundamental battle for them is... First, they've managed to trap us [you] into sending and spending all our dear blood and treasure into a rat hole in the Iraqi desert... a place that means nothing to their grand plans, except for it's oil reserves... Second, every trooper killed or horrifically maimed and every multiple billions [with a "b"] dollars we spend in Iraq is not being used to root their soory anas's out of their caves in Afghanistan and the western federal tribal areas of Pakistan...Third, they have utilized our [your] "Great Adventure into olde Mesopotamia" as the greatest recruiting tool for militant jihadists in recent history.

"Jesus, [Allah, hack bar! ] my dear lady, by all means, please, please...stay in the valley of the Euphrates river,...forever and ever! All my best! "..."OBL"


"Facing" bin-Laden and Zawahiri where they aren't would [could] seem to be the most ignorant and backward strategy that anyone could devise. But to the White House, sending our troops to fight and die in Iraq makes perfect sense -- having them defend plots of land from fugitives [that] the administration has allowed "safe haven" hundreds of miles away. To most Americans, [and this olde soldier] however, it looks like self-destructive lunacy and incompetence...


Olde soldier sends...

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