Secrecy or Spin?

Justin Rood points out an interesting leak–the tidbit that some of the people arrested in last week’s alleged terrorist plot made phone calls to the United States.

That’s why my antennae started buzzing when I read this paragraph from an Aug. 12 AP story about U.S. government efforts to trace possible domestic links to the recently-foiled London terror plot:

Two. . . U.S. counterterrorism officials, speaking oncondition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation,said the British suspects placed calls to several cities in the UnitedStates before their arrests. At least some of the calls were placed topeople in New York, Washington, Chicago and Detroit, one official said.The suspects are all British citizens, mostly men in the 20s and 30s ofPakistani descent.

Now, that appears to be remarkably specific intelligence leaked fromwithin an ongoing terror investigation — classified information thatcould not only reveal sources and methods, but also tip off possiblesuspects before the Feds got to them

But I suspect he may be misreading the administration’s dominant impulse with regards to information. Rood argues that because the administration hates leaks, the leak must either have been sanctioned or just something the administration missed.

  1. SaltinWound says:

    At first read, the most straightforward explanation for the leak is to justify domestic spying.

  2. KdmFromPhila says:

    I second SaltinWound’s reading. How better to justify the spying than at a time when everyone’s following a story of foiled terrorists.

  3. SaltinWound says:…..nted=print


    In a written statement criticizing Judge Taylor’s ruling, Mr. Hastert defended the wiretapping operation and said that “our terrorist surveillance programs are critical to fighting the war on terror and saved the day by foiling the London terror plot.â€


    Mr. Bush alluded to the London plot today as an example of danger in an era of terrorism, but without asserting that the surveillance program had had a role in its detection. “You might remember last week, working with people in Great Britain, we disrupted a plot,†the president said.

    Come on, wheel!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well they do that everytime they find an aspirational terra-ist. I’m going to do a post, soon, on all the times they say, â€LOOK DANGER†â€BUT WE DIDN’T WIRETAP ILLEGALLY.†It’s one of the best arguments to be made against the damn program. Because they have never once claimed it did them any good.

  5. EZSmirkzz says:

    Yeah, sort of simular to the story out of Pakistan. If the CIA hasn’t confirmed it, then all the AQ dudes have gone to ground. How convienient.

  6. pdaly says:

    Concerning the Bush Administration’s wish to ’control the message’ after leaks occur, I was surprised to learn that the identity of the Abu Ghraib whistleblower (who alerted the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division and turned over the first disc of photos documenting abuse of prisoners) was outed by none other than Donald Rumsfeld in a speech in Washington, DC. Rumsfeld ostensibly singled out Sgt Joseph Darby by name to show appreciation for having brought the abuse to our attention.

    According to Darby’s interview on NPR this week, everyone in Darby’s unit learned he was the whistleblower within hours of Rumsfeld’s ’praise.’ Of course Darby was caught off guard by the sudden spotlight, having believed he would remain anonymous until any court procedings occurred. He had received such a promise by the CI Division at the time he blew the whistle.

    Isn’t is nice that Rumsfeld wanted everyone to know all about Darby as soon as possible? As NPR notes this week â€Many of Sgt. Joseph Darby’s former comrades from the 372nd Military Police Company have been sentenced to prison for their roles in the Abu Ghraib case.†At the time of his outing, Darby feared for his life.

  7. Dismayed says:

    Clearly spin. True or not, doesn’t matter to admin. Expect criminality from these guys, you’ll seldom be wrong.

  8. freepatriot says:

    expect bushco spin to explain ALL of it

    was there even a serious plot ???


    was this so-called plot used for political advantage by bushco ???


    nuff said

  9. Sara says:

    I actually am coming to sense there is a good deal to this plot. I don’t think the US had all that much to do with taking it down, but the Brits and Paks are going like gangbusters.

    The Brits found the Bomb equiptment in suitcases hidden in King’s Wood outside High Wycombe. At least two of the scots papers are reporting they also found the chemicals in London. They have also found guns in many places, though nothing particularly heavy. They have made a few additional arrests, one in particular at Hollyhead — the ferry between Wales and Ireland. The supposition is that many of those planning to actually do the bombing may not be in England, but rather were in Ireland waiting to transit in and take planes.

    In Pakistan things are moving fairly fast. Apparently they’ve rounded up several in on the murder of Daniel Pearl, yesterday they arrested five sought for a car bombing at the US Mission in Karachi, and they found a couple formerly involved with the attempt on Musharraf’s life. They arrested Rahman, supposedly the current #3 in al-Qaeda, and they arrested the father of the Rauf brothers who apparently had been in Afghanistan meeting al-Qaeda. They arrested him as he was about to board a flight for London. The Pakistani police are connecting him up with last year’s London train bombings as well as a leadership role in this plot. Not all of it connects up in a coherent way yet, but it does look like Musharraf is cracking cases right and left. Another tid-bit, apparently the Pakistani police have found that the money trail mostly goes through South Africa — Money originates in Pakistan, gets taken to South Africa, laundered, and then sent on to London.

    I simply don’t think the US Press is following much of this — the Brits are as far as they can go without violating the strict laws regarding revealing evidence, but the Pakistani Press is wide open with many stories, as is the Indian Press, though they are obviously more interested in the train bombings in Bombay. Bush, compared to all this activity, looks like a snoozing guy on a lounge chair at the beach, and I suspect one thing that disturbs him is that he is out of the circle of action. Perhaps more damaging, this is not the product of war — it is long term detailed and intelligent police work. As if to confirm the Brits have a case — they are borrowing detectives and forensic examiners from all their police forces, the Scotsman reporting one group leaving immediately to expand the assets in Islamabad. All this activity hardly suggests a sham case.

  10. FredinVermont says:

    I actually am coming to sense there is a good deal to this plot.

    I tend to buy the idea that these were people who had been chatting on the web and being watched for a year while they talked about this stuff.  The Brits wanted to keep watching them but when the US got wind of things via Pakistan they insisted the group be rolled up.

    There is an interesting article in the Guardian that says

    Police sources have confirmed that the alleged plot involved the use of TATP, triacetone triperoxide, which was to be made up from liquids. This has led to speculation that peroxide, acetone and sulphuric acid might have been disguised as bottles of drink to get through hand baggage checks. Forensic explosives experts say if this was the case the liquids would have had to be mixed on the plane to attain the crystallised TATP explosive

    A quick look in for triacetone triperoxide, tells us that this is the very unstable and dangerous explosive (nick named "Mother of Satan") used in the London subway bombings a year ago.   The liquid angle is this:  it is made by mixing hydrogen peroxide with acetone using a small amount of acid.

    So in theory you just smuggle a few pints of clear liquids in you carry-on luggage and then go to the bathroom and mix it up.  But it is not at all clear to some that such a thing would really work.  As the articles says

    Gerry Murray, of the Forensic Science Agency in Northern Ireland, believes this would be very difficult, particularly if carried out in the toilet of a passenger jet. The liquids have to be kept at freezing point when they are mixed and the TATP crystals must be dried before being ignited, a process which could take several hours.

    Some 250g (9oz) of solid TATP would be needed for a substantial explosion, but Mr Murray said if the individual had never made the explosive before he would need a great deal of luck to manufacture it on a plane.

     Notice that this scenario would require substantial amounts of clear liquids.  Just how small amounts of perfume, lipstick, or hand lotion fit into such a system is very unclear unless they were fabricated to hold the small amount of acid the reaction requires as a catalyst.

    To me all of this sounds a lot more like a bunch of tall talk on the Internet, though it is possible that is was being used as some sort of outreach to find people who were willing to be die for the cause and then bring them in to use in some more realistic plot. 

  11. forensic says:

    Larry Johnson(Plame’s pal from the farm) was in London as the terror happened.

    Larry on his trip:

    â€As George Bush said, â€fool me once, shame on me, fool me–you can’t get fooled againâ€. Or, how about the old saying, â€if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it’s a duckâ€. Why the snark? Just watch the Keith Olbermann’s brilliant presentation–which shows conclusive, indisputable evidence that George Bush and his minions have used bogus terrorist threats to distract public attention from embarrassing political news–and you too will become a member of the reality based community (thanks to John Amato at Crooks and Liars for posting this up).â€