As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Why Are We Outsourcing Intelligence Activities?

The story in today's Washington Post, that self-interested leakers inside the White House just compromised a major Al-Qaeda intelligence asset, is bad news. But let's look at it a bit further (emphasis mine):

A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.

Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company's Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.

The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure 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.

This information was disclosed at precisely the time when the Man Called Petraeus was readying his testimony on Capitol Hill, and putting a scary scary bin Laden video out there, to them, properly colored the clash to come. So this was leaked for political purposes, and it certainly compromised an asset.

But the question is, why exactly is this little private intelligence startup getting more information than the federalized, tax-funded intelligence agencies? I remember reading an article about Rita Katz and SITE in the New Yorker abut a year ago. She's a bit unstable, but she's managed to do a lot better, by virtue of sitting on her computer, than the combined forces of the US government. That's frightening.

Here's Buzzflash's take, via email:

Okay, This Group Called "SITE" is Allegedly Finding Stuff Out About Al-Qaeda Before the Bush Administration, Such as the Alleged Latest Osama Tape with the Photo-Shopped Beard. Now, the Woman Who Runs It -- Who Allegedly is Paid a Large Consulting Fee by The White House -- is Accusing the Bush Administration of Destroying Her "Sources" for Finding Out Things About the "Terrorists" That the Bush Administration Doesn't Know. So, She Goes to the Washington Post Complaining that the Bush Administration is Undercutting the War on Terrorism, In Essence, by Leaking the Alleged Osama Tape Too Early After She Sent it To Them. Our Question is Why is this Small Private Organization Called "SITE" Allegedly Beating Our Intelligence Agencies to Information About Osama? Why Isn't the CIA The WH Source? Uh, This is Mind Boggling. And She Regularly Appears to be Supplying the Busheviks with "Secret" Information. This is THE Story that the WP Should be Investigating, Not Her Strange Whining to Them. What the Heck is "SITE" Doing Being Several Steps Ahead of the Combined Department of Homeland Security Intelligence Operation? Or are They Just a WH Propaganda Plant? A Very Strange Story Indeed.

It is strange, and it's missing a lot of elements. Is the Bush Administration paying to outsource intelligence to some lady in Jersey? Is that being done to evade proper oversight? What the hell is going on?

Labels: , , , ,