Digital Conflict

By Kevin Coleman

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Kevin Coleman

Leaky Americans could lead to big intelligence chill

Intelligence leaks are inevitable, but the frequency and severity of the recent U.S. intel leaks are far from typical. News of the New York Times article that disclosed the source of the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear program, coupled with the disclosure of the doctor in Pakistan who collected the Bin Laden family’s DNA for positive identification, and the covert operative that had infiltrated al-Qaeda and warned of the new underwear bombing plot, are quite unusual in terms of their implications.

When intelligence organizations share the information they collect, it is based on trust and a need to know. Some foreign intelligence partners would have to be concerned about the recent U.S. intelligence disclosures. I requested and received some comments about the recent intelligence disclosures, and as usual the sources spoke on the condition of anonymity.

  • From a cleared resource in the United States: What the hell were they thinking? Isn’t that what is referred to as a Dr. Phil moment?
  • From an inside source in Britain: Whitehall is aghast and in disbelief. 
  • From a security professional in Israel: I’m not sure yet what to think. Israel usually doesn't "talk" about things like this, but America has to put out the information.

If you were an intelligence officer, would you be concerned about putting at risk one of your intelligence sources as well as all the time and money it takes to put an asset in place after what the world read and heard of late? It would at least cause you to pause and think about it. That slight delay could have disastrous consequences. 

Will a big chill come over relations between the United States and its intelligence partners around the world? Time will tell, and the damage this has done will undoubtedly take some time.

Posted by Kevin Coleman on Jun 14, 2012 at 9:26 PM

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