Media Watch: The Sharyl Attkisson approach
**Posted by Phineas
This time about Stuxnet, the super-virus that’s been wreaking havoc with the Iranians’ “peaceful” nuclear program. The
New York Times Obama Marketing Department has the story:
Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran
From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.
Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.
At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.
“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.
Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium.
This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.
What was it I said in another post about keeping one’s mouth shut with national secrets? Oh, yeah…
One of the greatest secrets you can have in intelligence work –especially when dealing with a deadly enemy– is that you’ve compromised their security. That you’ve cracked their codes, found their safe houses, planted a bug in their meetings, slipped a mole deep inside… so many things. You want them kept secret because you can exploit the advantage again and again, disrupting and demoralizing your enemy because they can’t figure out how you’re always one step ahead. These are secrets you go to your grave with, because, once blown, they’re useless.
Again, this is great news, and the article is a fascinating read, but does anyone really believe that its publication on the same day as a horrific, recession-foreboding jobs report is just a coincidence?
No, I didn’t either.
Yeah, I know they said they interviewed a bunch of people (Do you really think they talked without Washington’s permission?) and said some secrets were kept secret, but… give me a break.
The danger of an article like this is that the Iranians (or their patrons in Russia and China) might be able to deduce from what is said and not said crucial information — about Stuxnet itself, about how it was inserted into Iran, about who may have helped us from the inside… who knows?
And that’s the point. We don’t know what they know, and thus we don’t know if anything in this article might provide them with a valuable clue or a key to a defense. Remember, it was a series of small, seemingly obscure clues that lead us to the big secret of Osama bin Laden’s location. Who knows what tidbit useful to Tehran might be found in this article?
Thus the correct thing to do would have been to shut the Hell up.
After WWII, the British kept the truth about Ultra secret for 29 years. With a national secret of comparable importance, Obama can’t wait 29 months to brag about it.
This is an administration so self-absorbed, so puerile, that it values the security of American strategic secrets lower than the president’s reelection chances.
November can’t come fast enough.
PS: Romney 2012, because he’s an adult and can keep his mouth shut.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)