Spiking the underwear bomb plot bust

The Obama administration is harming national security in order to benefit politically.  It is a wonderful thing that Saudi intelligence and the CIA were able to infiltrate a double agent into Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, but it is terrible that AQAP now knows that they have been penetrated, just because the administration couldn't resist crowing about the victory. Having bungled the "reset" with Russia and promised post-election flexibility, having lost Egypt and Tunisia, having dithered while Iran builds its nuclear arsenal and ignored the green movement which might have toppled the mullahs, Obama needs something beyond Osama bin Laden's death to celebrate in his foreign policy. And he needs to brag about foreign policy because his economic policies have been such a disaster.

Andrew Malcolm of IBD sums up the problem:

All of the administration's brass had, we now know, previously agreed to stay mum post-mission. But the next morning, a Monday, Obama's White House simply could not resist the temptation to bask.

So, top terrorism adviser John Brennan was trotted out to give the media its beloved "tick-tock," an allegedly minute-by-minute and inevitably self-serving account of the daring raid into Pakistan and bin Laden's three-wife household. Heavy on the Situation Room scene, less so on the beyond-imagination courage of the gloved guys with night-vision goggles

Brennan got many of the details screwed up, of course, because after-action reports were incomplete. But he did let out that the SEALs -- under President Obama's direct orders, you understand -- had also captured a rich treasure trove of intelligence.

Nice. But did we really need to know that? Seriously

Also asking questions is Rep. Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee:

The chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee expressed dismay that someone leaked information about a double agent who infiltrated al Qaeda and helped foil a plot to blow up a U.S.-bound plane.

"It's really, to me, unfortunate that this has gotten out, because this could really interfere with operations overseas," Rep. Peter King of New York told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday. "My understanding is a major investigation is going to be launched because of this."

Americans deserve to know why a valuable secret was exposed.

Jim Yardley adds:

With the announcement today that not only had the CIA foiled a second "underwear" bomb plot that was conceived by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorists located in Yemen, but the White House also announced that the individual who was to have boarded an aircraft bound for America was, in fact, a CIA informant.

Good job, CIA!  And of course, good job, Mr. President. 

A good job, but possibly the dumbest handling of sensitive intelligence information since the last time the president "spiked the football" after the killing of Osama bin Laden. 

Last year, after the SEALS stormed Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, there was some dissemination of classified materials that were captured during that raid.  Material such as announcing to the whole world that we now had in our possession a list of Al Qaeda safe houses.  Like the iconic MasterCard advertisements would have said, how much is that information worth to us in terms of hunting down and neutralizing Al Qaeda?  Priceless! 

Of course once Al Qaeda knew what we knew, it had an adjusted value.  Zero.

The information leak regarding the alleged fact that this second underwear bomber was a CIA informant does several things.  In terms of having the least geopolitical importance, the informant's life is now in serious jeopardy.  He is a person known to AQAP assassins.  If he is a native of Yemen, what sort of witness protection program could accommodate him?  Does any rational person think he could just "blend in" no matter where he was located?  Reports indicate that the informant is a Saudi national, but going home doesn't seem like a good idea either. 

It would have been better to leave the CIA connection with this faux terrorist unmentioned.  Announce the attempt was foiled, but simultaneously report that the would-be terrorist lost his life during his capture.  The chances of AQAP, or any other branch of the terrorist network finding a "dead" man approach zero.  Who looks for someone who's already dead?

Because of the wording of the announcement, that the informant was "the" CIA operative, it conveys to AQAP that there was only one CIA mole in place.  The administration lost another "priceless" opportunity here as well. 

If an announcement had to be made, it should have been announced in this way:  "...the designated underwear bomber was one of the CIA's operatives..."   Phrasing the announcement to indicate the informant was only one of several would most likely result in an internecine bloodbath as AQAP worked to discover the other CIA operatives.  Purges in ideologically motivated dictatorships are not exactly an unprecedented phenomenon.  The United States and its allies could have watched as AQAP self-destructed, or at the very least crippled itself for at least months and possibly years before it could reconstitute itself.

The announcement was amateurish and destroyed whatever hopes intelligence professionals might have had of creating collateral damage among the Al Qaeda terrorists operating out of Yemen.

But it sure is a great way for the president to have another chance to dislocate his shoulder patting himself on the back for a success against Al Qaeda and the war on terror, indirectly reminding voters that he made that "gutsy" call to kill Osama bin Laden almost exactly a year ago.  Well that's a coincidence, isn't it?

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter.  Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com/, or he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com

The Obama administration is harming national security in order to benefit politically.  It is a wonderful thing that Saudi intelligence and the CIA were able to infiltrate a double agent into Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, but it is terrible that AQAP now knows that they have been penetrated, just because the administration couldn't resist crowing about the victory. Having bungled the "reset" with Russia and promised post-election flexibility, having lost Egypt and Tunisia, having dithered while Iran builds its nuclear arsenal and ignored the green movement which might have toppled the mullahs, Obama needs something beyond Osama bin Laden's death to celebrate in his foreign policy. And he needs to brag about foreign policy because his economic policies have been such a disaster.

Andrew Malcolm of IBD sums up the problem:

All of the administration's brass had, we now know, previously agreed to stay mum post-mission. But the next morning, a Monday, Obama's White House simply could not resist the temptation to bask.

So, top terrorism adviser John Brennan was trotted out to give the media its beloved "tick-tock," an allegedly minute-by-minute and inevitably self-serving account of the daring raid into Pakistan and bin Laden's three-wife household. Heavy on the Situation Room scene, less so on the beyond-imagination courage of the gloved guys with night-vision goggles

Brennan got many of the details screwed up, of course, because after-action reports were incomplete. But he did let out that the SEALs -- under President Obama's direct orders, you understand -- had also captured a rich treasure trove of intelligence.

Nice. But did we really need to know that? Seriously

Also asking questions is Rep. Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee:

The chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee expressed dismay that someone leaked information about a double agent who infiltrated al Qaeda and helped foil a plot to blow up a U.S.-bound plane.

"It's really, to me, unfortunate that this has gotten out, because this could really interfere with operations overseas," Rep. Peter King of New York told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday. "My understanding is a major investigation is going to be launched because of this."

Americans deserve to know why a valuable secret was exposed.

Jim Yardley adds:

With the announcement today that not only had the CIA foiled a second "underwear" bomb plot that was conceived by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorists located in Yemen, but the White House also announced that the individual who was to have boarded an aircraft bound for America was, in fact, a CIA informant.

Good job, CIA!  And of course, good job, Mr. President. 

A good job, but possibly the dumbest handling of sensitive intelligence information since the last time the president "spiked the football" after the killing of Osama bin Laden. 

Last year, after the SEALS stormed Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, there was some dissemination of classified materials that were captured during that raid.  Material such as announcing to the whole world that we now had in our possession a list of Al Qaeda safe houses.  Like the iconic MasterCard advertisements would have said, how much is that information worth to us in terms of hunting down and neutralizing Al Qaeda?  Priceless! 

Of course once Al Qaeda knew what we knew, it had an adjusted value.  Zero.

The information leak regarding the alleged fact that this second underwear bomber was a CIA informant does several things.  In terms of having the least geopolitical importance, the informant's life is now in serious jeopardy.  He is a person known to AQAP assassins.  If he is a native of Yemen, what sort of witness protection program could accommodate him?  Does any rational person think he could just "blend in" no matter where he was located?  Reports indicate that the informant is a Saudi national, but going home doesn't seem like a good idea either. 

It would have been better to leave the CIA connection with this faux terrorist unmentioned.  Announce the attempt was foiled, but simultaneously report that the would-be terrorist lost his life during his capture.  The chances of AQAP, or any other branch of the terrorist network finding a "dead" man approach zero.  Who looks for someone who's already dead?

Because of the wording of the announcement, that the informant was "the" CIA operative, it conveys to AQAP that there was only one CIA mole in place.  The administration lost another "priceless" opportunity here as well. 

If an announcement had to be made, it should have been announced in this way:  "...the designated underwear bomber was one of the CIA's operatives..."   Phrasing the announcement to indicate the informant was only one of several would most likely result in an internecine bloodbath as AQAP worked to discover the other CIA operatives.  Purges in ideologically motivated dictatorships are not exactly an unprecedented phenomenon.  The United States and its allies could have watched as AQAP self-destructed, or at the very least crippled itself for at least months and possibly years before it could reconstitute itself.

The announcement was amateurish and destroyed whatever hopes intelligence professionals might have had of creating collateral damage among the Al Qaeda terrorists operating out of Yemen.

But it sure is a great way for the president to have another chance to dislocate his shoulder patting himself on the back for a success against Al Qaeda and the war on terror, indirectly reminding voters that he made that "gutsy" call to kill Osama bin Laden almost exactly a year ago.  Well that's a coincidence, isn't it?

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter.  Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com/, or he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com

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