As if outing Valerie Plame, whose primary task was to monitor and contain WMD proliferation in the Middle East–including Iran, wasn’t bad enough, the Bush Administration destroyed another intelligence gathering operation for political gain (italics mine):
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.
….But 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.
I have no idea how SITE is getting information before our intelligence agencies–maybe they’re like the A-Team or something. Let’s not even deal with that issue. Once again, the Bush administration politicized stopping al-Queda, instead of, well, stopping al-Queda. Of course, as maha notes, there is a method to the madness:
You might ask, what does it profit us to fight al Qaeda in Iraq if we’re going to trash our own intelligence about al Qaeda? Oh, my dears, we must see the big picture. The big picture is not that we support the war to defeat al Qaeda; rather, we use al Qaeda to support the war. Keep it straight.
Now can we impeach him?
An aside: Can you imagine the pandimensional shitstorm that would have ensued if CBS, and not Fox News, had divulged this information?