I like to be kept informed as much as anybody, but the company, SITE Intelligence Group, says that making the video public ruined years of work.
"'Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless,' said Rita Katz, the firm's 44-year-old founder, who has garnered wide attention by publicizing statements and videos from extremist chat rooms and Web sites, while attracting controversy over the secrecy of SITE's methodology." That's how the Washington Post put it.
"While attracting controversy over the secrecy of SITE's methodology?!"
Let's think about it:
- A bunch of religious nuts have decided that they're supposed to kill Americans, wholesale.
- Being smart fanatics, they do their planning and preparation in secret
- Among other things, the fanatics set up a secure online communication system.
- A private-sector investigation firm cracks into the system, making it possible to learn of the next attack.
As it is, thanks to some bozo or bozos on Capitol Hill, Al Qaeda now knows that its online security has been breached, and has probably plugged the hole by now.
I sometimes wonder if the people inside the Beltway really understand what's going on. Although it isn't as obvious as the Luftwaffe's regular bombing of London, back in WWII, the war on terror is very real.
Happily, attacks like 9/11 replays of 2002 and 2003 didn't happen. Not for lack of effort, though. People like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed haven't stopped trying to promote their brand of Islam, and I don't expect them to.
I'd feel safer if the people whose job it is to run this country acted as if they realized that we're all at risk.
This Osama bin Laden video isn't the first time that that classified information has been leaked in Washington. As the St. Petersburg Times put it, writing about the fuss over the leak of September 10, 2001, messages in Arabic, "Leaking is a Washington tradition, especially on Capitol Hill. By leaking information to a reporter, members of Congress can make a point without leaving their fingerprints."
Much as I admire and respect traditions, leaking classified information while there's a war on simply doesn't make sense. The British, for example, after they cracked the Enigma code, the British had the good sense to keep the fact secret.
I'm going to make a prediction, and I hope I'm wrong.
The presidential campaign will whip our elected officials into a frenzy next year.
At least one candidate is going to demonstrate his or her knowledge of world affairs and Washington by leaking - or openly discussing - information that would have best been left under wraps until after the war.
Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.