A front-page story in the Washington Post briefly gave me hope that the press was going to take more seriously leaks that damage our ability to get terrorist intelligence: “Leak Severed a Link to Al-Qaeda’s Secrets.”
The subhead quickly dashed my initial hope: “Firm Says Administration’s Handling of Video Ruined Its Spying Efforts.” If someone in the administration did leak intelligence of Bin Ladin’s September 11 video prematurely, it was definitely a horrendous wrong.
Whoever leaked caused a valuable hotline to the terrorist network to be shut down. The intelligence was obtained by a private company, whose officials seem to be the primary source of the damaging story. But the Post wasn’t the only news organization to cover the story-so did the New York Sun.
It is interesting to compare the two takes-the Post cites only Fox News as a recipient of the leak, while the Sun has ABC breaking the news. The Sun is less conclusive as to who leaked. By the way, I wouldn’t mind the administration (sans special prosecutor!) trying to find the leaker-this is fare more significant than the identity of Valerie Plame.
It was the Sun, not the major metropolitan daily, that supplied the chilling details of the terrorist network responding to the leak:
“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.'”