Friday, February 10, 2006

lip service is all i ever get from you

For a guy who's supposed to be the guardian of our nation's secrets and intelligence, CIA Director Porter Goss seems to be out of the loop.

In this piece in today's NYT, a whinefest about intelligence leaks, he is both outright lying and disingenuously lying, committing lies of commission and ommission.

His point is:
Revelations of intelligence successes or failures, whether accurate or not, can aid Al Qaeda and its global affiliates in many ways. A leak is invaluable to them, even if it only, say, prematurely confirms whether one of their associates is dead or alive. They can gain much more: these disclosures can tip the terrorists to new technologies we use, our operational tactics, and the identities of brave men and women who risk their lives to assist us.

The head-shaking comes because of an example he uses to make his point, and an example he ignores, which would have more on target.

One example Goss uses to stress the importance of keeping secrets is:

Recently, I noticed renewed debate in the news media over press reports in 1998 that Osama bin Laden's satellite phone was being tracked by United States intelligence officials. In the recent debate, it was taken for granted that the original reports did not hurt our national security efforts, and any suggestions that they did cause damage were dismissed as urban myth. But the reality is that the revelation of the phone tracking was, without question, one of the most egregious examples of an unauthorized criminal disclosure of classified national defense information in recent years. It served no public interest. Ultimately, the bin Laden phone went silent.

Only one problem...this story has been pretty much discredited in this WaPo story from December 2005, Goss's whining to the contrary. Moreover, it wasn't any US press agency that was responsible for the leak.

President Bush asserted this week that the news media published a U.S. government leak in 1998 about Osama bin Laden's use of a satellite phone, alerting the al Qaeda leader to government monitoring and prompting him to abandon the device.

The story of the vicious leak that destroyed a valuable intelligence operation was first reported by a best-selling book, validated by the Sept. 11 commission and then repeated by the president.

But it appears to be an urban myth.

The al Qaeda leader's communication to aides via satellite phone had already been reported in 1996 -- and the source of the information was another government, the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan at the time.

The second time a news organization reported on the satellite phone, the source was bin Laden himself.

Causal effects are hard to prove, but other factors could have persuaded bin Laden to turn off his satellite phone in August 1998. A day earlier, the United States had fired dozens of cruise missiles at his training camps, missing him by hours.

Not only that, he seems to have completely forgotten about a rather egregious leak that outed a covert CIA agent. And now it seems that Libby was ordered by VP Cheney to disclose classified info. Makes you wonder how likely it was that the Plame leak was done at the Veep's behest. Then of course there's this little gem from the Post today:

The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Until BushCo I was under the impression that the CIA was supposed to be above politics, not an agency at the beck-and-call of the President, not part of the army of spin doctors that the administration needs to cover its ass and make up slam-dunk certainties.

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