Posts Tagged ‘Ayman al-Zawahiri’

Leakers of secrets who won’t be punished

August 12, 2013

[Update 9/24/13.  The “leak” may have been disinformation.  No such conference call seems to have taken place.  Either the information came from other sources or it was bogus.]

Somebody leaked to The Daily Beast, an on-line newspaper, that the reason the U.S. State Department is closing embassies throughout the Middle East is information revealed in a conference call between Ayman al-Zawahiri, the top leader of al Qaeda, and more than 20 al Qaeda affiliates.

Al Zawahiri thought his communications were secure, but, because of the information leak, he now knows they aren’t.  If that information hadn’t been leaked, maybe it would have been possible use to continue eavesdropping and figure out the locations of al Zawahiri and other al Qaeda leaders.

Why then was the information leaked?  My guess is that the leakers’ purpose was to silence critics of the Obama administration who claim that the closing of the embassies was intended as a distraction from the controversy over Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program.

Unlike Snowden and others who leak information embarrassing to the government, these leakers will not be tracked down and punished, any more than earlier leakers who have revealed information about successful intelligence operations against al Qaeda.

The U.S. government has always been concerned about the leaking of information to the public that makes the government look bad, even when the information happens to be well-known to America’s enemies.  Since 2001, it has seldom if ever been concerned about leaking of information that may be helpful to America’s enemies but makes the government took good.

These leaks make me skeptical of the claim that the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping has thwarted plots that the agency can’t reveal because of national security considerations.  If there were successes, the information would be made known.  The pattern I see is that public relations trumps national security.

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