Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lies are like potato chips....

Lies are like potato chips, you can't tell just one.

The latest lie or "urban myth" is the argument that because of a leak to a newspaper, the conservative Washington Times, in 1998 Osama Bin laden was made aware his communications on his satellite phone were being monitored and abruptly stopped using it losing a vital source of intelligence. W used it as an example of how shameful it was to leak classified information to the press and how damaging it is to national security. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way about the leak from "Scooter" Libby and Karl Rove and god knows who else at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue about Valarie Plame. W said that the leak of the Osama satellite phone was a great loss to U.S. intelligence and the exposure of the NSA spying without a warrant on America citizens is also as damaging. Of course, none of this is true.

To begin with, it should be common knowledge to the "evildoers" that their communications are always at risk of being monitored. We've been told that they even communicate through code embedded in pictures and the like so they know there is an effort to read their communications. Whether its with a warrant or not is irrelevant to them. They know every effort is being made to track them. So the fact that a warrantless search is going on versus a warrant search is meaningless. This has nothing to do with exposing sources or methods to the enemy or public at large. It has everything to do with exposing the "I can do what I want and claim its legal because I'm a war president" attitude of W. The FISA court allows emergency warrantless wiretaps as long as you request approval within 3 days. The only reason why you would engage in warrantless wiretaps is that you knew you couldn't get them approved. Why ask permission when its easier to ask for forgiveness. And W can't even do that! He says it's legal because its legal and that he would do it again and he will keep doing it.

And what about the Osama-satellite phone leak that led to Bin Laden's communications going "dark" leaving the NSA to hear nothing from the evilest of "evildoers?" Turns out its a myth. An "urban legend" so says The Washington Post. W claimed that the Washington Times "published a U.S. government leak in 1998 about Osama bin Laden's use of a satellite phone, alerting the al Qaeda leader to government monitoring and prompting him to abandon the device." W claimed the leak destroyed a valuable intelligence operation which the Sept. 11 commission confirmed. "But it appears to be an urban myth."

"The al Qaeda leader's communication to aides via satellite phone had already been reported in 1996 -- and the source of the information was another government, the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan at the time. The second time a news organization reported on the satellite phone, the source was bin Laden himself.
Causal effects are hard to prove, but other factors could have persuaded bin Laden to turn off his satellite phone in August 1998. A day earlier, the United States had fired dozens of cruise missiles at his training camps, missing him by hours.

Bush made his assertion at a news conference Monday, in which he defended his authorization of warrantless monitoring of communications between some U.S. citizens and suspected terrorists overseas. He fumed that "the fact that we were following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone made it into the press as the result of a leak." He berated the media for "revealing sources, methods and what we use the information for" and thus helping "the enemy" change its operations.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Monday that the president was referring to an article that appeared in the Washington Times on Aug. 21, 1998, the day after the cruise missile attack, which was launched in retaliation for the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa two weeks earlier. The Sept. 11 commission also cited the article as "a leak" that prompted bin Laden to stop using his satellite phone, though it noted that he had added more bodyguards and began moving his sleeping place "frequently and unpredictably" after the missile attack.

Two former Clinton administration officials first fingered the Times article in a 2002 book, "The Age of Sacred Terror." Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon wrote that after the "unabashed right-wing newspaper" published the story, bin Laden "stopped using the satellite phone instantly" and "the United States lost its best chance to find him."

The article, a profile of bin Laden, buried the information about his satellite phone in the 21st paragraph. It never said that the United States was listening in on bin Laden, as the president alleged. The writer, Martin Sieff, said yesterday that the information about the phone was "already in the public domain" when he wrote the story.

A search of media databases shows that Time magazine had first reported on Dec. 16, 1996, that bin Laden "uses satellite phones to contact fellow Islamic militants in Europe, the Middle East and Africa." Taliban officials provided the information, with one official -- security chief Mulla Abdul Mannan Niazi -- telling Time, "He's in high spirits."

So the claim that the media in 1998 published information unknown to Bin Laden that resulted in the loss of a vital intelligence source is untrue. Either W is once again either grossly uninformed, recklessly negligent with the truth or is simply lying. Take your pick. I've already made mine. If the past five years haven't convinced you that W and his capos believe not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth then the latest untruth is just like another potato chip. Enjoy.


Blogger phinky said...

"W is once again either grossly uninformed, recklessly negligent with the truth or is simply lying"

I'll take all of the above.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Crankyboy said...

That's a good choice too.

8:56 AM  

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