Oct 9, 2007

White House Fingerprints on Bin Laden Tape Exploit

Never has one been presented with a more perfect reveal of the procedure behind the ongoing exploitation for domestic propaganda purposes of the Osama Bin Laden video messages.

The proprietor of the marquee private purveyor of the Al Qaeda tapes sent a sneak preview of a recent release to the White House, and now is complaining that the leaking to the press by the administration has blown her operational arrangements for access to the terrorist group's information products.

Did she think that the tapes (even if legit) have any value to the White House aside from propaganda? She claims that she sent them so that White House officials "could prepare for their eventual release." Unintentional satire maybe, but hilarious nevertheless.

A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.

Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company's Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.

The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group's communications network. ...

Katz said she decided to offer an advance copy of the bin Laden video to the White House without charge so officials there could prepare for its eventual release.

She spoke first with White House counsel Fred F. Fielding, whom she had previously met, and then with Joel Bagnal, deputy assistant to the president for homeland security. Both expressed interest in obtaining a copy, and Bagnal suggested that she send a copy to Michael Leiter, who holds the No. 2 job at the National Counterterrorism Center.

Administration and intelligence officials would not comment on whether they had obtained the video separately. Katz said Fielding and Bagnal made it clear to her that the White House did not possess a copy at the time she offered hers.

Around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, Katz sent both Leiter and Fielding an e-mail with a link to a private SITE Web page containing the video and an English transcript. "Please understand the necessity for secrecy," Katz wrote in her e-mail. "We ask you not to distribute . . . [as] it could harm our investigations." ...

[W]ithin minutes of Katz's e-mail to the White House, government-registered computers began downloading the video from SITE's server, according to a log of file transfers. The records show dozens of downloads over the next three hours from computers with addresses registered to defense and intelligence agencies.

By midafternoon, several television news networks reported obtaining copies of the transcript. A copy posted around 3 p.m. on Fox News's Web site referred to SITE and included page markers identical to those used by the group. "This confirms that the U.S. government was responsible for the leak of this document," Katz wrote in an e-mail to Leiter at 5 p.m.

This story is being played as a one-off. That interpretation is accepted at one's own risk.

During the Cold War, a not-inconsiderable amount of time and effort was expended conducting official US government propaganda operations to calm Americans' fears of nuclear annihilation. Ostensibly aimed at reassuring foreign audiences as to U.S. intentions, "Atoms For Peace", etc., had the deliberate objective of helping to relieve anxiety about the bomb domestically.

These days, the White House-approved (and administered) practice is to cultivate the specter of the most vividly imagined terrors from abroad and to trumpet the most hare-brained plots discovered at home.

And when all else fails, they play the Bin Laden card.

Have a look at Michael Tanji's post What Did I Tell You at his journal Haft of the Spear. Drill down while you're at it. All the way down.

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