Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Leaks Like Oceanic Methane Eruptions

This time, it was ABC's turn to conspire with the left-wing jihadi-symp cabal in the bowels of the intelligence bureaucracy and blow another valuable covert op against al Qaeda:
The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure [of the most recent Osama bin Laden video] 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.
The New York Sun's Eli Lake thinks that's a load of ass-covering spin:
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."
It must have produced a quesey, sinking feeling. While it's true that this "keyhole" wasn't the only one we have into al Qaeda's communications net - at least, I hope it isn't - it batters home the point afresh that no "keyhole" or any other intelligence-gathering mechanism is safe from the megalomaniacal drive of George W. Bush's political enemies to destroy him personally, politically, and historically, even if it brings about a catastrophe. Or, rather, ESPECIALLY if it brings about a catastrophe - which they can then turn around and blame on the President and the war itself.

Or perhaps this was a case of professional jealousy, since this was a private firm that was outdoing the entire government intel apparatus, at least in this particular instance.

Either way, I'm sure that will prove immensely comforting to the thousands of families of the victims of the next successful enemy mass-casualty attack that might have been prevented by "Obelisk" had ABC and their "intelligence sources" not stripped it nakeder than a Paris Hilton internet video.