Is There Any Indication This Isn’t the Fault of OVP?

Via Secrecy News, I see that DCI Michael Hayden is lecturing the press on its obligations in the GWOT.

Theduty of a free press is to report the facts as they are found. By sticking tothat principle, journalists accomplish a great deal in exposing al-Qa’ida andits adherents for what they are.

Justas they report on the terrorists, it’s the job of journalists to report on the howthe war against terrorism is being fought. And when their spotlight is cast onintelligence activities, sound judgment and a thorough understanding of all theequities at play are critically important. Revelations of sources andmethods—and an impulse to drag anything CIA does to the darkest corner of theroom—can make it very difficult for us to do our vital work.

Whenour operations are exposed—legal, authorized operations overseen by Congress—itreduces the space and damages the tools we use to protect Americans. After thepress reported how banking records on the international SWIFT network could bemonitored, I read a claim that this leak—and I quote—“bears no resemblance tosecurity breaches, like disclosure of troop locations, that would clearlycompromise the immediate safety of specific individuals.”

Idisagree. In a war that largely depends on our success in collectingintelligence on the enemy, publishing information on our sources and methodscan be just as damaging as revelations of troop or ship movements were in thepast. Now, the compromise to safety can be both immediate and lasting,extending far beyond specific individuals.

Hayden then goes on to cite two examples where leaks to the press compromised operations.

Somesay there is no evidence that leaks of classified information have harmednational security. As CIA Director, I’m telling you there is, and they have. Letme give you just two examples:

  • In one case, leaks provided ammunition for agovernment to prosecute and imprison one of our sources, whose family was alsoendangered. The revelations had an immediate, chilling effect on our ability tocollect against a top-priority target.
  • In another, a spate of media reports cost us severalpromising counterterrorism and counterproliferation assets. Sources not eveninvolved in the exposed operation lost confidence that their relationship withus could be kept secret, and they stopped reporting.

Now, of all the leaks to the press of late, only two that I can think of could have compromised individual sources and "operations"–and if the latter pertains to counterproliferation, I’d say the possibilities are even fewer. There’s the revelation that Pakistan had captured Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, Al Qaeda’s IT guy. Pakistani officials claimed that the leaked capture had compromised a large operation–which may well have touched on both counterproliferation and counterterrorism.

Until U.S. officials leaked the arrest of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan toreporters, Pakistan had been using him in a sting operation to trackdown al Qaeda operatives around the world, the sources said.

If we can believe the Pakistanis, then this is almost certainly one of the incidents Hayden refers to. But the leak came from Administration leakers trying to justify one of their orange alerts.

And then, of course, there’s the outing of Valerie Wilson. Her work definitely touched on counterproliferation. Her exposure definitely required the CIA to pull back some operatives working under the Brewster Jennings cover. But it may well have led to either of the consequences Hayden cites–the arrest of assets tied to the cover, or the hesitation of others to work with us.

After all, if the US Vice President is willing to out intelligence secrets, what guarantee do others have that Cheney won’t out assets as well?

  1. leveymg says:

    Hi, EW

    As much a response to your 9/6 article, â€Gen. Petraeus Is The New Judy Millerâ€, as to Hayden’s exhortation to the media to cover the GWOT reponsibly, may I recommend: â€PETRAEUS’ IRAQ WMD DECEPTION: How the General Earned His Stripes With Bush-Cheney†http://www.democraticundergrou…..31#1781409

    Most of the case will be familiar to you, but this may be the definitive brief to date.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

    – Mark

  2. windje says:

    Hayden is full of it

    snip . . .But reports on US monitoring of SWIFT transactions have been out there for some time. The information was fairly well known by terrorism financing experts back in 2002. The UN Al Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Group , on which I served as the terrorism financing expert, learned of the practice during the course of our monitoring inquiries. The information [that SWIFT was being monitored]was incorporated in our report to the UN Security Council in December 2002. That report is still available on the UN Website. Paragraph 31 of the report states:

    “The settlement of international transactions is usually handled through correspondent banking relationships or large-value message and payment systems, such as the SWIFT, Fedwire or CHIPS systems in the United States of America. Such international clearance centres are critical to processing international banking transactions and are rich with payment information. The United States has begun to apply new monitoring techniques to spot and verify suspicious transactions. The Group recommends the adoption of similar mechanisms by other countries.â€

    Suggestions that SWIFT and other similar transactions should be monitored by investigative agencies dealing with terrorism, money laundering and other criminal activity have been out there for some time. An MIT paper discussed the pros and cons of such practices back in 1995. Canada’s Financial Intelligence Unit, FINTRAC,, for one, has acknowledged receiving information on Canadian origin SWIFT transactions since 2002. Of course, this info is provided by the banks themselves. . . .snip


  3. Mary says:

    Hayden’s prose on press coverage of Bush’s programs has the same compelling ring as his confident assertion that the Fourth Amendment cuts off well before the warrant clause and the rest is just a mass national delusion.

    It isn’t so much dragging the CIA to the darkest corner, it is dragging the illegal dark aspects into the sunshine. And he is employing the exact same fibbiness that he did when he testified before Congress after 9/11.

    â€When our operations are exposed—legal, authorized operations overseen by Congress

    SWIFT program – Ruled illegal.…../swift.php

    New – Comey/Goldsmith IMPROVED eavesdropping program – ruled unconstitutional…..00650.html

    Maher Arar rendition for torture, signed off on by Thompson and under a State Secrets cloak provided by Comey – not just an illegal torture rendition, but an illegal torture rendition of an innocent man that also provided false information (doesn’t that reassure you when you also find out Hayden says an exorbitant amount of the NIE if from ’detainee interrogtations’?) e.g.…..ael19.html

    And that ultra super-duper secret file on Arar (which seems likely to include OTHER FALSE TORTURE STATEMENTS)? Well, Chertoff and Gonzales trotted it out for Canadian Public Service Minister Stockwell Day and he said publically it had nothing new and nothing to justify what was done.…..s-answers/

    There at the tortured statements obtained by CIA and now used and approved in American courts to obtain arrest warrants – legal? Apparently enough so for a Florida Bush appointed Judge, but see how comfy that concept is done the line.

    There was the perfectly legal, Congressionally supervised kidnap torture of el-Masri, outlined by Judge Ellis before he cravenly said – ok, I guess if it’s a state secret when the CIA decides to kidnap and sodomize and abuse people here and there around the world, I guess there’s nothing I can do about it…..574,6.html

    And yeah, the perfectly legal wiretapping that apparently the FISA court just ruled to be – uh, not so legal.…..02619.html

    Then there is/are the Italian, German and Spanish inquiries into illegal rendition flights using their airports.…..ys-cia.php
    Scotland has just started another inquiry
    I’m not sure, but I think Sweden may also have an inquiry

    Then there are the Italian indictments of 26 – including a American agent who had to leave in a rush and ended up leaving his computer to be taken by Italian investigators.…..0820070216
    I actually wonder if the SISMI collapse isn’t part of what he is referring to in one or the other of his bullet points – although there the rule of law and a real prosecutor – as opposed to a DOJ puppet – were the cause of the downfall.

    That’s not even a complete list – but the Elmer Fudd blinky blinky statement about the legal and supervised (and go to Graham’s audio at Think P for the supervised part – much less the straw man legal issue that they floated to Graham as the heart of his briefing) activities is just crap.

    The man had no compunction about causing his employees at NSA to rack up all kinds of felonies – felonies for which, first off, there was no legal cover (which is a horrible insight into how much he cares what happens to those relying on his leadership – relying solely on politics and illicit anti-American secret coverup of the violations) and felonies which, secondly, required prolonged and covert ongoing attacks on the US Constitution even in face of the two FISA Ct Chief Judge’s expressing that the program was too illegal and tainted to be allowed in their court.

    But the stenographers take it all down without question. Meanwhile, lest we forget, the original reason that Gonzales did not go to a REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED Congress for authority to do what they have done is because he was sure Congress wouldn’t allow it:

    We have had discussions with Congress in the past – certain members of Congress – as to whether or not FISA could be amended to allow us to adequately deal with this kind of threat, and we were advised that that would be difficult, if not impossible.â€

    Now, a Democratic controlled Congress gives them what they couldn’t get before, and more.

    Somedays, it seems it really may be better to have the morally corrupt in charge over the spineless. Although Bush seems to do a great job of finding men and women who are an intersection of both sets of qualities to put in charge of the nation’s institutions.

  4. Ishmael says:

    Mary – excellent comment. Regarding the SWIFT disclosure, the idea that Al Qaeda didn’t think that international financial transactions were being monitored (legally or otherwise) is ridiculous. If they are indeed the existential threat to Western Civilization that Bushco claims, we should give them at least as much credit as we would give Tony Soprano. But the most disturbing thing about Hayden and his masters, is that Bushco seems to think that they can give anyone a Double-O License to do whatever the f*** they want, just because they are secret agents. The media and certain members of Congress including Democrats seem to enjoy being told spy stories about â€methods and sources†as opposed to acting in the best interests of the people and the law.