Lessons from the latest intelligence leak

Douglas Hanson
Eli Lake of the New York Sun has out-covered the rest of the media on the latest leak that damaged intelligence-gathering.
One of the world's foremost authorities on Al Qaeda says that last month's compromise of the intelligence community's penetration of the terrorist group's Internet communication system was a serious blow, but that, ultimately, the damage was not fatal.

The head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, Rohan Gunaratna, said in an interview yesterday that the damage done on September 7, when ABC News published online quotes from a transcript of Osama bin Laden's first speech in three years, was "reparable." But he also called it a "serious breach." [....]

In yesterday's interview, Mr. Gunaratna praised Ms. Katz, who had told the Sun that her operation was ruined as a result of last month's leak to ABC News and other news organizations. Ms. Katz's work was unique, according to Mr. Gunaratna, because he said Ms. Katz is "obsessive."

"There are endless methods of deception," he said. "It is an infinite game, I can deceive you once, but I need to find another way. We have not seen anyone on the government side with the same dedication and passion as Rita in this," he said.
So, from this we've learned:

- A private citizen and her group are more dedicated than our ether warriors in the gov't. (I'd buy that to an extent.)

- Singapore's center has divulged more knowledge about AQ's network than our own agencies. (I'd buy that, but does this inadvertently help the bad guy?)

- MSM continues to leak and put our ops in jeopardy. (Absolutely.)

- That the networks went dark to the intell community (IC) after the "leaks" implies the IC had in fact been penetrating the networks to a degree, so they can't be all that bad. (I buy that, there is more going on than we realize.)

- That a private group called SITE is technically able to do what supposedly the NSA can't. (I don't buy it.)  If so, we need to draft them into the IC.

- the intell community is still playing games with congressmen and abusing their classification authority. (Absolutely.)

One key thing not touched upon: Electronic Warfare has a component that so far hasn't been addressed, and that is physical destruction. 

We seem to be averse to penetrating networks as far as we can and then destroying the offending terminal or hub.  These signals have to go through somewhere, and that somewhere is fair game in war.  The IC's weakness is that they are always looking for the next bit of info or always on the trail of ...something.  An operational commander needs to take the reins and decide on the benefit vs. the burden of never-ending detective work and whack the transmitter or hub when appropriate.  I also suspect this has been happening more than we know.  But that's just me.

Hat tip: Dennis Sevakis
Eli Lake of the New York Sun has out-covered the rest of the media on the latest leak that damaged intelligence-gathering.
One of the world's foremost authorities on Al Qaeda says that last month's compromise of the intelligence community's penetration of the terrorist group's Internet communication system was a serious blow, but that, ultimately, the damage was not fatal.

The head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, Rohan Gunaratna, said in an interview yesterday that the damage done on September 7, when ABC News published online quotes from a transcript of Osama bin Laden's first speech in three years, was "reparable." But he also called it a "serious breach." [....]

In yesterday's interview, Mr. Gunaratna praised Ms. Katz, who had told the Sun that her operation was ruined as a result of last month's leak to ABC News and other news organizations. Ms. Katz's work was unique, according to Mr. Gunaratna, because he said Ms. Katz is "obsessive."

"There are endless methods of deception," he said. "It is an infinite game, I can deceive you once, but I need to find another way. We have not seen anyone on the government side with the same dedication and passion as Rita in this," he said.
So, from this we've learned:

- A private citizen and her group are more dedicated than our ether warriors in the gov't. (I'd buy that to an extent.)

- Singapore's center has divulged more knowledge about AQ's network than our own agencies. (I'd buy that, but does this inadvertently help the bad guy?)

- MSM continues to leak and put our ops in jeopardy. (Absolutely.)

- That the networks went dark to the intell community (IC) after the "leaks" implies the IC had in fact been penetrating the networks to a degree, so they can't be all that bad. (I buy that, there is more going on than we realize.)

- That a private group called SITE is technically able to do what supposedly the NSA can't. (I don't buy it.)  If so, we need to draft them into the IC.

- the intell community is still playing games with congressmen and abusing their classification authority. (Absolutely.)

One key thing not touched upon: Electronic Warfare has a component that so far hasn't been addressed, and that is physical destruction. 

We seem to be averse to penetrating networks as far as we can and then destroying the offending terminal or hub.  These signals have to go through somewhere, and that somewhere is fair game in war.  The IC's weakness is that they are always looking for the next bit of info or always on the trail of ...something.  An operational commander needs to take the reins and decide on the benefit vs. the burden of never-ending detective work and whack the transmitter or hub when appropriate.  I also suspect this has been happening more than we know.  But that's just me.

Hat tip: Dennis Sevakis