June 4, 2012
By Peter Brookes
Last week’s media bombshell that we’d infiltrated the Iranian nuclear program with a super-secret computer virus made it undeniable: There’s been way too much aired about sensitive US operations over the last year or so.
Someone ought to tell Team Obama.
It started with the Osama bin Laden takedown last May, in which operational and intelligence details found their way out of the White House Situation Room to the press in just a number of hours.
In a slap at the leakers, then- Defense Secretary Bob Gates said, “We all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden . . . That all fell apart on Monday — the next day.”
The situation was made worse by exposing the role a Pakistani doctor played in finding bin Laden. The doc is now going to jail for 30-some years — and the crafty inoculation program meant to get Osama’s DNA is blown.
Earlier this year, info escaped about the busting of the plot to put an “underwear bomber” on a US-bound aircraft by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
While kudos go to the intel community for this fabulous counterterrorism op, it was revealed that the expected bomber was a double agent who’d penetrated AQAP. Now al Qaeda knows, too.
Then, late last week, came a news story on “Stuxnet,” the tippy-top-secret US-Israel cyberassault on Iran’s uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz that’s been going on since the George W. Bush presidency.
It’s terrific the cyberattack reportedly led to the destruction of some centrifuges used in Iran’s bomb program, but now the mullahs know for sure who was behind the operation.
Moreover, dope on our highly successful drone program continues to ooze out.
All this boastful blabbing risks big consequences.
First, it’s likely to hurt future operations. It’s not like we’ll never want to use these techniques again — but they’ll be harder to pull off now that we’ve given the bad guys glimpses of our playbook. For the same reason, these revelations put our brave intelligence officers and special operators deeper in harm’s way.
And telling Iran who did a number on their nuclear plant will likely lead to attempts at revenge. Iran is no cyberslouch; wonder what US targets now have bull’s-eyes on their circuitry?
Nor can this eye-opener have any positive effect on Washington’s far-flung hopes for a peaceful, diplomatic settlement with Tehran over its nuclear program.
And with all this out in the open, it’ll certainly be harder to lecture others — such as China and Russia — on their cyber conduct.
Naturally, leaks also effect our ability to recruit folks for future operations. Who wants to work for Uncle Sam if his name may be splashed across a newspaper’s front page? Jail is the gentlest of downsides if that happens.
Plus, Washington’s hemorrhaging of secrets is sure to give foreign governments pause about cooperating with us. That can’t be good.
We throw around the phrase “too much information” a lot in social banter, but TMI applies to our national security, too (even in a free, open society). Maybe the administration thinks TMI means “tell more intelligence”?
Whatever happened to “no comment”?
The leaking can’t help but lead one to think Team Obama is so insecure about its national-security image that it feels it must dish data about these highly classified operations for purely political purposes. If so, that’s shameful.
Regardless of the reason, though, the growing litany of leaks needs to stop ASAP.
Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
This article originally appeared in the New York Post on June 4th, 2012.
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Read More >>
Request an interview >>
Please complete the following form to request an interview with a Heritage expert.
Please note that all fields must be completed.
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 450,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2015, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973