Tuesday, June 19, 2012

More National Security Leaks - And Where They Might Have Come From

There have been another series of national security leaks that appear to be aimed at helping President Obama politically by bolstering his national security credentials. As the WAPO reveals, these primarily deal with joint cyberwarfare ventures with Israel aimed at Iran's nuclear program:

The United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed Flame that collected intelligence in preparation for cyber-sabotage aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort.

The massive piece of malware secretly mapped and monitored Iran’s computer networks, sending back a steady stream of intelligence to prepare for a cyberwarfare campaign, according to the officials.

The effort, involving the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, has included the use of destructive software such as the Stuxnet virus to cause malfunctions in Iran’s nuclear-enrichment equipment.

The emerging details about Flame provide new clues to what is thought to be the first sustained campaign of cyber-sabotage against an adversary of the United States.

“This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” said one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, who added that Flame and Stuxnet were elements of a broader assault that continues today. “Cyber-collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.”

Flame came to light last month after Iran detected a series of cyberattacks on its oil industry. The disruption was directed by Israel in a unilateral operation that apparently caught its American partners off guard, according to several U.S. and Western officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

There has been speculation that the United States had a role in developing Flame, but the collaboration on the virus between Washington and Israel has not been previously confirmed. Commercial security researchers last week reported that Flame contained some of the same code as Stuxnet. Experts described the overlap as DNA-like evidence that the two sets of malware were parallel projects run by the same entity.

Spokesmen for the CIA, the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as well as the Israeli Embassy in Washington, declined to comment.

The article goes on to give details on how the programs work that will undobtedly be of great interest to the Iranians.

One could certainly question the judgment of the reporters involved in running this story, but the big question remains...where are the leaks coming from?

Obviously from the White House..and one interesting possibility points the finger at none other than Secretary of defense and former CIA head Leon Panetta.

Apparently Secretary Pannetta was a prime suspect in another leak that took place during the Nixon Administration.

After the 1968 campaign, Nixon hired Pat Moynihan–who had served as assistant secretary of labor for policy in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations–as his urban-affairs adviser and all-around White House intellectual. Moynihan was already a somewhat controversial figure, having authored a report called “The Black Family: Then and Now,” which attributed the disproportionate poverty in the black community to rising illegitimacy. The liberal intelligentsia pilloried Moynihan for this conclusion, and he left the Department of Labor not long after his authorship of the report became public. ...

The memo was leaked to the press, and on March 1, the New York Times ran an article headlined “‘Benign Neglect’ on Race Is Proposed by Moynihan.” The White House was swamped with criticism from civil-rights leaders and editorial pages, and Moynihan had to hold a press conference to defend himself. ...

Although memos leak all the time, and the leakers are rarely identified, The New Republic’s John Osborne reported in a March 1970 profile of Moynihan that Leon Panetta was a prime suspect in the leak.

There was certainly some reason for the suspicion. In February, Panetta had resigned from HEW because he opposed the Nixon administration’s approach to desegregation. Panetta later went to work for New York mayor John Lindsay, switched parties, and successfully ran for Congress as a Democrat in 1976. The leaker has never been definitively identified.

It's important to emphasize that this is speculation, and there's no direct evidence that Panetta is the source of the leaks. But he is a very partisan and loyal Democrat with a long history in DC who knows how this sort of thing works, who was fingered, correctly or incorrectly in a prior leak, and who might not be adverse to making a try at manipulating the odds on re-election in Obama's favor.

One thing that's undoubtedly true is that the leaks have severely hurt America's national security ability to carry out covert operations like this in tandem with other countries. Can you imagine the Israelis or any of our other allies trusting us on confidentiality or wanting to work with us on joint ventures after this? I can't. At least not until after the present regime is out of power.


louielouie said...

if, hussein is not re-elected, can you just imagine the damage that will be done in the three months until swearing in.
and the dhimmocrats will call it patriotism.

Anonymous said...

The Israelis would be fools to trust Obama. So would anyone else.

B.Poster said...

If Mr. Obama and his team think these leaks are going to help him get reelected, they are sorely mistaken. The purpose of these leaks is likely not to assist the President but instead the purpose is likely to undermine American national security interests.

While the main stream media prefers Mr. Obama to Mr. Romney, if they are forced to choose between assisting Mr. Obama or undermining American interests, they are going to choose undermining America's interests. The media in concert with many top US government officials have worked tirelessly to undercut any kind of military option America may have had against Iran. This is likley part of that campaign. What we really need to be worrying about is not an American attack on Iran but an Iranian attack on America!! This campaign of leaks may be designed to give the Iranians futher justification for this coming attack on America, as if the Iranians need any more justification in the eyes of the world. Until the narrative on this conflict is addressed and some how altered, we simply cannot get the kind of support we will need for any kind of effective confrontation with Iran.

America could not have been involved in either Stuxnet or Flame. These viruses are beyond the capabilities of the Americans either to design them or to distribute. As such, they had to have been designed and implemented by someone else, perhpas the Israelis. There is no doubt that our "allies" are aware that America lacks the capabilities needed for this and, as such, were not involved. Why then is it being reported that the Americans were involved? I suspect it is one of the following: a.)someone in the US government wants to appear tougher than they really are for political purposes or b.)this is part of a coordinated attempt by the Iranians to provide further justification for their coming attack on America. I think b is the likely reason for the leaks. I can only imagine that our allies such as Israel are livid over these leaks!!

The inability to trust American leadership goes far beyond simply who resides in the White House. Even if Mr. Obama is not reelected, the media personnel and top government officials who are dedicated to undermining America's interests will still be in place. Also, due to the nature of America's political system, there is the risk of massive upheaval in the positions of power with every election cycle. As such, even if today's leadership is trustworthy, a potential ally or partner does not know what they are going to get with the next electoral cycle and many of these operations take longer than an electoral cycle to complete.

Given the poor quality of America's intellegence services and the fact that no one is going to trust us enough to take a risk in working with us, we are in deep trouble. Essentially the Russians could be planning a massive nuclear strike against us or the Russians and the Chinese in concert with Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, and others could be planning a massive invasion against us and no one would warn us or help us prepare!! Who would want to take that risk of informing us or assisting us?

Unless this is somehow changed, America's chances of survival over the next three years are less than one half of one percent. Amreica's only real hope is divine intervention. Unfortunately the nation has largely turned its back on the Judeo-Christian heritage that played such a large role in its founding. This makes this divine intervention problematic at best. Truly a sad state of affairs. May God have mercy on us.