Thursday, May 23, 2002

I have some doubters about my story below about Orrin Hatch being the leaker that Woolsey had effectively been referring, appealing to earlier similar leaks. There may have been, but here's the shortest version excerpted from Washington Whispers:

Rumsfeld's scolding directed at Hatch
So whom was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld targeting when he went on a tirade Wednesday against those who leak classified information? Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Senate, intelligence, and Pentagon sources say that Rumsfeld and other national security officials were outraged that the senator talked with reporters about intercepted secret information about the terror attacks into the Pentagon and World Trade Center. News reports show that Hatch discussed intercepts between associates of chief suspect Osama bin Laden about the attacks. The worry: leaks that that will dry up sources of information about the bin Laden gang, which may retaliate if it can figure out who the source was.

I'm sure leaks dried up previous methods of intercepting information too, but in the context of 9/11 it is hard to imagine that this wasn't what James Woolsey was talking about. Here is what he wrote:

Intercepted communications could be a more promising source of intelligence if it weren't for our national tendency to logorrhea about the subject. U.S. intelligence figured out in the late 1990s how to intercept bin Laden's satellite telephone conversations, and then someone talked to the press about it; the source of course dried up. Recently there have been periodic press reports about how we have been able to intercept al Qaeda e-mail and other communications. (Hint to the blabbermouths in the government who have access to intercepts of terrorist communications: Members of al Qaeda read newspapers.)