Dishonorable Disclosures: A Refutation

Any attempt to disprove the claims of this twenty minute attack ad is, at this point, perhaps unnecessary: it has been a dud grenade, leaving everyone, except the movie’s participants, completely scratchless. Peter Bergen has already defanged the film’s most poisonous claims in “Are ‘Swift Boat’ attacks on Obama bogus?”, while Ken Dilian’s “Group attacking Obama for security leaks includes past talkers” goes into the pasts of the film’s participants, who have happily engaged with the press when it was to their convenience, and now condemn such contacts when it is to their convenience as well. What follows leans heavily on these two articles, a try at a simple, exhaustive, point by point look at this film, an effort to drop this failed grenade deep into the water so that it is certain to do no harm. Essential supporting quotes are placed in the text, the rest in footnotes.

A good chunk of the film establishes the fact that military intelligence matters. Most people would probably know this, but it insists on telling us anyway. It’s a little like an action movie that has an opening ten minute monologue, explaining: “This is a gun, bullets come out of it, and they can kill you. Bang, bang.” What took place with this current administration, the movie then declares, was an unprecedented breach in the nation’s veneration for secrecy.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

NARRATOR
From our earliest days, we have recognized those who have led our fight for freedom. Throughout our history, these brave men and women have put their lives on the line for us, our families, and our future. They made a pledge to fight for us, and for the freedoms and liberties that define us as a nation.

Next is Debbie Lee, whose son embodies the principles that have been violated by this president’s tenure.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

DEBBIE LEE
My name’s Debbie Lee, and I’m the very proud mother of Mark Allen Lee, who was the first Navy SEAL that was killed in Iraq in August 2006. He willingly gave his life so they could live. And so that we could experience the freedoms that we have here and our founding fathers intended for us to have. I miss that young man so much. But I know where he is. He was re-deployed to heaven, and I will see him again.

I have no desire to dwell on this, but will only point out that it is possible for a mother to lose what might be greatest to her, and be wrong about an issue as well, and that Ms. Lee, having been involved in demonstrations to counter those led by Cindy Sheehan, apparently believes so too.

Back to the narration. Secrets are secret. Important secrets are important.

NARRATOR
We honor their service, their sacrifice. Their victories in combat were not cheap, they certainly were not automatic. And virtually without exception, success depended on having the right intelligence where, when, and how best to strike.

DAVE LAMORTE
All military operations depend entirely on intelligence.

Except maybe those involving you. I’M KIDDING, DAVE.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

DAVE LAMORTE
No one commits troops blindly in the field. Hasn’t been done since the days of Napoleon, and even then, intellligence was necessary. Intelligence nowadays is crucial, just to get authorization to do the most minor operation.

You learn a lot watching this piece. Military intelligence has been of great importance since the time of Napoleon, and before that as well.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

SIMON
You need intelligence to be able to identify your target. The capabilities of your enemy. And to determine how you’re going to operate against the enemy. It’s the foundation of everything.

What follows next is the mildly intense Ben Smith, an example of what happens when you tell Joan Crawford to play Val Kilmer in a military role, but not in her usual understated way.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

BENJAMIN SMITH
Good intelligence is the difference between wasting lives on a mission, or getting a mission done to the exact specification as ordered, to achieve. [sic]

BENJAMIN SMITH
The intelligence is…the paramount. [sic]

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

BILL COWAN
Intellignece is key to ensuring your operation is gonna be a successful one. If you don’t have good intelligence, you’re probably not going to succeed.

Again: I’m learning so much.

NARRATOR
Techniques and technology have changed through the years. But two things have remained constant. First, human intelligence, penetrating the plans and operations of the enemy with real people, not just equipment, is central and critical.

DAVE LAMORTE
It all starts with human intelligence…who said what to who, what’s that lead, uh, and following one person, sometimes for years, till they lead you to where you want to go.

Yes, but suppose I really want to go to Quiznos: do I actually need Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to take me by the hand?

SIMON
Human intelligence is the most important kind of intelligence, because it is the only intelligence that can provide you with the thinking of leadership. All the technical intelligence you have out there, is not going to be able to give you what’s in the minds of the leaders and enemies. That can only come from human intelligence.

The great emphasis on human intelligence here has only a small pay-off: what is alleged to be the betrayal of Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who worked with American forces in the killing of Bin Laden, through wanton leaking.

NARRATOR
Keeping secrets matters. It’s called operational security, or OPSEC, for short. Never let the enemy know of your intentions, your operations. Maintaining OPSEC means the difference between a successful mission and failure. And when OPSEC is violated, our enemies gain the upper hand.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

Clearly, an homage to the opening scene of The Naked Gun.

DAVE KING
As soon as you let anyone know what you have, they change their tactic if they use a certain tactic, or, uh, change what direction they were heading.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

I thought they were going to Quiznos this way, but since he decided to take the tunnel, I guess we’re not going to Quiznos.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

The quote that appears at this point, from FBI director Robert Mueller III, has nothing to do with any of the issues brought up in the ad – Stuxnet, the Bin Laden killing, drones – but with the Yemen underwear bomber, whose cell leader was revealed to be a double agent. There is, I think, a good reason why this case is not brought up in the ad, though Mueller’s quote is used in the context of the loss of human intelligence and the arrest of Shakil Afridi – the investigation into the leak involving the underwear bomber (yes, I’m sure you’ve thought of a few funny jokes by now) was initiated the day after the revelation, very much on the initiative of the White House – not a leak made from the top for political gain or purpose, but one made lower down, out of indiscretion.

From “FBI Investigates Media Leaks in Yemen Bomb Plot”:

“We have initiated an investigation into this leak,” Mueller testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. “Leaks such as this threaten ongoing operations, puts at risk the lives of sources, makes it much more difficult to recruit sources, and damages our relationships with our foreign partners.”

The investigation is likely being run by the Justice Department’s counterespionage section and agents from the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Justice Department officials and an FBI spokesman declined to comment on the nature of the investigation. The CIA also declined comment.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is also conducting a review with the DNI’s general counsel to see if the leaks originated in any of the 16 agencies that DNI director James Clapper oversees.

NARRATOR
There’s a cost for our leaders grabbing for glory. Politics should never come before national security.

Well, it’s a good thing that’s never happened before.

DAVE LAMORTE
Every time you leak intelligence like that, you lose assets. Some assets are no longer usable. Some assets are found by our enemy, and eliminated.

Others end up at a local yard sale. You paid two dollars, and now you have The Time Traveler’s Wife, a vomit green patio chair, and a CIA asset.

NARRATOR
These are the experts on the subject. The people who have spent much of their lives in military and intelligence operations. They know what they are talking about. And they have had enough. They’ve come together to make sure that americans understand what’s going on, and what’s at stake. Protecting operational security. Their mission: stop the politicians from politically capitalizing on U.S. national security operations and secrets.

The first accusations deal with the exploitation of Bin Laden’s death for political gain and leaks around the killing.

NARRATOR
Remember May 2, 2011: Americans learned that Osama Bin Laden had been eliminated. How did we learn about it?

From Dwayne Johnson. No? That’s not the answer we were looking for?

PRESIDENT OBAMA
Tonight, I can report to the American people, and to the world, the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden…I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of Bin Laden our top priority in the war against Al-Qaeda…I met repeatedly with my national security team…I determined that we had enough intelligence…at my direction…I directed I directed I directed etc.

DAVE LAMORTE
That was kind of infuriating to a lot of folks, especially those who had been in a fight. Uh…they didn’t…this administration didn’t capture, or kill, or eliminate Bin Laden, or anybody else. There’s a whole lot of folks in the military and the intelligence community that have been working on this for a very long time.

A transcript of the president’s remarks on that night can be found here. The excerpt below has the text featured in “Dishonorable” italicized, while the non-italicized text is that which is left out. I bold the most significant text unexcerpted. Obviously, much of what is left out is where the President gives great credit to those in intelligence and on the ground for their work.

Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda [the “I directed” fragment here is what’s repeated over and over again at the end], even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counter-terrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

Ben Smith, shortly before winning his third Academy Award for Mommy Dearest, shows up to give us his sane and reasonable view:

BEN SMITH
Mister President, you did not kill Osama Bin Laden. America did. The work the American military has done, killed Osama Bin Laden. You did not.

Next:

BRIAN GOULD
So for someone to sit around in a support position and say, “We killed Osama Bin Laden”: No, you didn’t. You had nothing to do with it. There was a finite number of people who can make that claim, and that’s the guys who were on the target.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

That these segments are back to back gives you some idea of the hyper-competence at work in this piece. Ben Smith says America killed Bin Laden. Brian Gould then shows up and says only those on the ground can say they killed Bin Laden, no one else can say so, not even someone who’s president, or, as Brian Gould calls it, in “a support position”. Well, who’s right? Can we just say that Ben Smith is right, so everyone, except the president, gets to put “I killed Bin Laden” on their résumé?

The refutation here is obvious, and I throw it to Bergen:

As to the notion that Obama has taken too much credit for the bin Laden raid, well he is commander-in-chief, and it was entirely his decision to launch the risky raid on Abbottabad based on the only fragmentary intelligence that bin Laden might be there.

As Adm. William McRaven, who was the military commander of the bin Laden raid, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last month, “at the end of the day, make no mistake about it, it was the president of the United States that shouldered the burden for this operation, that made the hard decisions, that was instrumental in the planning process, because I pitched every plan to him.”

The raid decision was opposed by Vice President Joe Biden, who had run for the Democratic nomination for the presidency against Obama. If Biden had won the White House in 2008, Osama bin Laden might still be alive.

And the decision to do the raid was also opposed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who had served every president going back to Richard Nixon. Gates was concerned about some kind of replay of the 1980 Iran hostage rescue debacle, which helped to turn President Jimmy Carter into a one-term president.

The notion that the decision to greenlight the risky raid was made by anyone other than Obama is just plain silly, and it was a decision he made against the advice of both his vice president and his secretary of defense.

It should also be mentioned that Ben Smith already made this accusation in May, accusing the president of profiting from his role and not giving due credit to those who had performed the actual act. It was knocked down with ease by Snopes:

President Barack Hussein Obama – STOP using the Navy SEALS as a campaign ploy. Because with all due respect, (what little I have for you), you do NOT speak for me

You Sir are trying to take the credit for what the American People have achieved in killing Bin Laden. Your use of the SEALs accomplishment as a campaign slogan is nothing less than despicable. I, as a former Navy SEAL do not accept your taking credit for Osama Bin Laden’s death. The American Military accomplished that feat.

This item attributed to a former Navy SEAL named Benjamin Smith is long on invective about the author’s dislike for President Barack Obama but short on presenting a factual basis justifying that opinion.

The show goes on:

NARRATOR
And the politicians just don’t get it. That serving our country is above politics.

I’ll note the obvious irony of this quote in a film made entirely for political gain, featuring members of intelligence and military whose service is designed to buttress a bunch of spurious allegations and false claims for the purpose of defeating the president.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

JAMIE WILLIAMSON
I was appalled, first: to hear secrets I’ve been spent over twenty-five years protecting, cover name of a unit, the actual name of a special mission unit, and the location of a special mission unit, all reported in the same sentence. Not only did they identify the special mission unit, we had tactics, techniques, procedures that were compromised, we even knew the name of the dog that was on the operation.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

FRED RUSTMANN
The raid on Osama Bin Laden was a very complicated event. It entailed a lot of very, very sensitive methods. I mean, there’s no helicopter. All of this was compromised. And in this particular case, it was done deliberately. I mean, moments after the raid, it was announced.

NARRATOR
Killing Bind Laden had been a goal for years. But the politicians turned this victory into an intelligence disaster.

Let’s just emphasize the hyperbole for what comes next: this is not a case of a mistake, or damage done, but an intelligence disaster.

BILL COWAN
I think we were all glad to hear that Osama Bin Laden was killed. But I think many of us would step [sic] and say why didn’t we wait a week, or two weeks, or wait some amount of time to exploit the intelligence you got out of that compound.

SIMON
The question that surfaced shortly after the announcement was: should it have been announced when it was? Now the bad guys knew we got Bin Laden, so it wouldn’t take long for that information to get out. But unfortunately, the early announcement that also defeated our ability to exploit the intelligence we might have gathered in Bin Laden’s compound. Computer files, paper files, any of a number of things might have been found there. So, as soon as the word got out that we had a bunch of rats scurrying to hide. And we might have had a little bit more opportunity to get some more had that announcement been held for a day or two.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

SCOTT TAYLOR
I think the disclosure of specific details of the raid, how we got there, how many people we used, what the tactics were to conduct the mission itself, and what we did afterwards…I believe a ten year old would be able to understand that if you disclose how we got there, how we took down the building, how many people were there, it’s gonna hinder future operations, and certainly hurt the success of those future operations for DOD, for military, for intelligence community as a whole.

This accusation, that the news of Bin Laden’s death should have been held for further tactical gain, but was released for political purposes, was made in the days after the killing by Jonah Goldberg, editor of National Review, noted incompetent, who sometimes, mistakenly, professes too great a love for children1. Goldberg’s name is not often associated with intelligence, and it has never been associated with any intelligence agency. His point is a purely political one, designed to eke out a political victory in what was a huge achievement for the president. I think it helps to quote it, to make clear that we have a republican talking point, passed from hand to hand, rather than a concern native to the intelligence community.

From the Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2011:

I’m no expert on such matters — though I’ve talked to several about this — but even a casual World War II buff can understand that the shelf life of actionable intelligence would be extended if we hadn’t told the whole world, and Al Qaeda in particular, that we had it.

It’s a bit like racing to the microphones to announce you’ve stolen the other team’s playbook even before you’ve had a chance to use the information in the big game.

But that’s exactly what President Obama did. He raced to spill the beans. The man couldn’t even wait until morning. At just after 9:45 p.m., the White House communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, informed the media: “POTUS to address the nation tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time.”

The announcement came less than three hours after Obama had been informed that there was a “high probability” Bin Laden was dead and that the Navy SEAL helicopters had returned to Afghanistan.

In other words, it seems that from the get-go the White House planned to announce the news as quickly as possible. Why? Nobody I’ve talked to can think of a reason that doesn’t have to do with politics.

The allegations made in the film, that information should have been held for greater intelligence gains, and that vital secrets regarding the operation were revealed, such as the name of the unit involved in the mission, were both ably knocked down by Bergen. After making clear how tightly held secrets were kept, and that while researching his book Manhunt: The Ten Year Search for Bin Laden, no classified information was ever revealed to him, Bergen establishes why the announcement of the killing could not be delayed:

What precipitated the operation going public was not Obama’s announcement of the raid but the crash of one of the Black Hawk choppers used in the raid, which turned what had hitherto been a covert operation into a very public event.

Pakistani journalists started arriving at bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound soon after the helicopter crashed and started filing stories about the mysterious helicopter and its oddly shaped tail rotor. An Abbottabad resident even tweeted about the unusual sound of helicopters flying over the city in the middle of the night.

It wasn’t much of a leap for reporters to ascertain that these helicopters had particular features that had prevented them from being detected by Pakistani radar.

Soon after the SEALs had raided the Abbottabad command, Pakistani officials on the ground were interrogating bin Laden’s wives and children at the compound who told them that bin Laden had just been killed. None of this was going to stay secret for long.

Indeed, it was Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s top military officer, who sped up the Obama administration’s announcement of the raid. A few hours after the raid, Kayani told his American counterpart, Adm. Mike Mullen, “Our people need to understand what happened here. We’re not going to be able to manage the Pakistani media without you confirming this. You can explain it to them. They need to understand that this was bin Laden and not just some ordinary U.S. operation.”

With regard to the naming of the SEAL team, Bergen makes an equally strong refutation:

During his speech to the nation and world, Obama did not divulge the name of SEAL Team Six, saying only that a “small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.”

It quickly leaked that SEAL Team Six had executed the raid, but this was hardly surprising as the SEALs are the principal Special Operations Forces in the Afghanistan/Pakistan theater, something that has been discussed in multiple news stories over the past several years and in bestselling books such as “Lone Survivor” by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.

And the SEALs have hardly kept a low profile of late, cooperating in a movie “Act of Valor” that was released in theaters this year, which actually featured real SEALs playing the parts of the heroes of the movie.

Perhaps if you had absolutely no knowledge of the U.S. military, or indeed access to Wikipedia where SEAL Team Six has had an entry since 2004, it would be news to you that SEAL Team Six, along with the Army’s Delta Force, are America’s premier counterterrorism units. Obviously, a mission to take out bin Laden would not be entrusted to any other than these elite units.

No, the movie hasn’t ended yet:

NARRATOR
And what about the people who put their lives on the line to help us eliminate Osama Bin Laden? What happened when the administration made it public? Who was on our side?

JAMIE WILLIAMSON
We’ve had enough difficulty…recruiting sources is never an easy thing to begin with, particularly in today’s environment. But one of the most important things that any intelligence operator must do is protect that source. And with wanton disregard this administration leaked information deliberately or otherwise that led to the identification of the Pakistani doctor that helped us in achieving our goals in killing Bin Laden. That makes it almost impossible to recruit other human sources.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

PAUL VALLELY
Worse than ever are leaks coming out of the White House. I’m not sure we have anybody in senior leadership today that understands the propriety and how risky it is on leaks. [sic] As a result of the recent leaks, just in the last year, we’ve had a Pakistani doctor who gave us information on Bin Laden…thirty-three years in prison.

That Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor, was arrested not as a result of any leak by the President, but as a result of Pakistan’s own investigation, is obvious in both Bergen’s piece, and a linked Guardian item, “CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden’s family DNA”, which was the first to report the doctor’s arrest in the western media.

It is just plain wrong that anyone in the U.S. government leaked the name of the CIA asset in Pakistan, Dr Shakil Afridi, who was recruited by the agency in its quest to find bin Laden. This information first surfaced in a story in the Guardian newspaper in July 2011 after Afridi was arrested by the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI. It is obvious that this information was leaked not by the Americans but the Pakistanis who have done their own investigation of the bin Laden raid, which embarrassed them considerably.

From the Guardian piece:

Pakistani intelligence became aware of the doctor’s activities during the investigation into the US raid in which Bin Laden was killed on the top floor of the Abbottabad house. Islamabad refused to comment officially on Afridi’s arrest, but one senior official said: “Wouldn’t any country detain people for working for a foreign spy service?”

TED RUSTMANN
What was done was stupid. But it was more than stupid, because it was done with malice aforethought. It was done for political purpose. And that’s what I find terrible.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

This might be a good time to bring up a point made in Ken Dilian’s “Group attacking Obama for security leaks includes past talkers”, which brings up Rustmann’s involvement in attempts to diminish the importance of the White House leaking the name of Valerie Plame. Rustmann’s tone here is outrage, over a leak, that of Shakil Afridi, that never took place. With regard to the Plame leak, which was most likely done for political purpose and with malice aforethought, he had no outrage whatsoever, but was happy to give succor.

From an interview on “Sean Hannity: Time Wasted With Morons”, July 15, 2005:

HANNITY: You were an agent from 1966 to 1990, and you said that in the Washington Times today she made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee. Her husband was a diplomat. Quote: “Her friends knew this. Her friends knew this. They told them.” In other words, this was not a secret of anybody that they knew.

I mean, actually he describes in his book how, after a make-out session on like the third or fourth date, that she told him. But putting that aside, everybody knew?

RUSTMANN: Well, I don’t know that everybody knew. I do know that her cover began to erode the moment she started dating Joe Wilson. The thing that I said was that, you know, when you walk like a duck, and quack like a duck, and look like a duck, you’re probably a duck.

And at the point in time that this all broke, Valerie Plame had been working at headquarters for a long time, several years. She went to work every day to headquarters. She was married to a high-profile former ambassador. She had a couple of kids, she was living around the beltway.

HANNITY: Well let me ask you this…

RUSTMANN: She looked like an overt employee.

He is asked about the consequences of Plame’s cover being blown:

COLMES: Also, the fact that her cover was blown — doesn’t this expose every asset? Doesn’t it expose other people, every operation that she might have been involved with, and possibly put lives at risk?

RUSTMANN: No, I don’t think so. I think she had official cover for the first part of her career, when she was overseas in an official capacity. She came back to headquarters for a while, and then they sent her out on a light non-official cover.

She was out there. She was collecting information under that cover. She came back to headquarters. They probably then reverted her back to her official cover. In other words, so she wouldn’t — her W-2’s would not say…

COLMES: So she went back into cover. But for example, didn’t they expose a front operation that she helped run, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, this made-up company. And wasn’t that exposed as a result of all this, and can’t this damage intelligence operations and our security?

RUSTMANN: Well, actually, no, because it isn’t a big deal. It was a light non-official cover. There was, you know, a phone. There was very little backstopping to that company. It wasn’t like she was working for a major multi-national American company or foreign company where there could be some severe blowback if that were to come to…

COLMES: Are you saying there are no repercussions of this? There’s no repercussions of her having been exposed as a covert CIA agent, even though she was non-covert at one point?

RUSTMANN: There are no major repercussions to the cover mechanism, no. To her — the question again gets down to whether somebody did this with malice or forethought. Then it’s a crime, and that person goes to jail.

COLMES: But isn’t the question whether any damage was done because of the revelation? Whether lives were harmed, whether anyone was harmed, or security was harmed?

RUSTMANN: Yes, I don’t think so. I think, if she were out there in that capacity, in that non-official capacity, and if she was handling agents — she was handling agents in another alias — we have different layers of cover that work.

Rustmann not only did ths interview, but was an on the record source for the Washington Times‘s “Rove Fight Escalates”, which buttressed a same day Times editorial, “Knifing Rove, Whitewashing Wilson-Plame” which placed the entire shameful burden on the agent, and gave relief to White House leakers. Here is Rustmann in the “Escalates” piece, dismissing the issue of leaked cover, and putting the blame on agency cover staff, rather than with those in the executive.

“She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat,” Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times.

“Her neighbors knew this, her friends knew this, his friends knew this. A lot of blame could be put on to central cover staff and the agency because they weren’t minding the store here. … The agency never changed her cover status.”

So, Rustmann’s outrage is something of a dressy tie, that can be worn or not worn, according to the occasion. This incredibly sincere anger continues, with the film’s next issue, the fact that director Kathryn Bigelow received some briefings in preparation for her movie on the Bin Laden raid, Zero Dark Thirty:

TED RUSTMANN
Days after the raid, Hollywood was invited into the White House…so they could receive a briefing on exactly how the raid took place. What kind of sources we had, what kind of methods we used. All for the purpose of making a Hollywood movie.

The briefings Bigelow received were given coverage both by the Huffington Post, “Obama Officials Gave Hollywood Filmmaker Access To Team That Killed Bin Laden, Records Show” by Andrea Stone, and Glen Greenwald of Salon, with the meeting records obtained by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, with an overview on their site. Bigelow and her screenwriter met with top officials not days after the raid, but a month after. Though they met with these officials, but there is no mention in any document or its summary of classified material being shared or a concealed approach or technique being revealed. The information that Bigelow and her writer appear to have been looking for were details in attitude and mindset, so that such moments would have a versimilitude in the film, with the White House having some influence in the production, that their commanders be portrayed as sympathetically as possible. One can question whether such collaborations are beneficial to a democracy, whether they inevitably end up as a worship of force, but as to the distinct and separate issue of classified material being revealed to Bigelow, I see no evidence of this in the Judicial Watch records, nor any hint of it.

A talking head re-iterates the point that the current administration does not take these secrets seriously enough:

BILL COWAN
Somewhere in this administration, perhaps at the highest levels, there are people who don’t udnerstand what the requirements are that are put on everybody else. When we divulge national security information, such as the identity, the organization that killed Osama Bin Laden, we have now put all of those men, all of their families, everyone around them at some sort of risk. And when is that payback going to come? Well, it didn’t come immediately, it might not come this week, it might not come next year. But be assured we have a lot of enemies out there.

Bergen has already been quoted clearly stating that the SEAL team information was not revealed by the executive branch, and that the name of the unit was a reasonable, obvious guess. However, one may contrast this anger over possible payback for agency work that might not take place immediately, but years afterwards, is entirely absent from Rustmann’s discussion of the Plame leak.

NARRATOR
Not content to go for political gain at the time, the administration decided to double down a year later. To take a victory lap, to try and get more political advantages, and airing a campaign commercial about the raid.

BEN SMITH
We have become a political weapon. We are not. Our job is to be silent professionals. We do not seek recognition. We do not seek popularity.

Dishonest Disclosures Refutation

Now might be an apt time to bring up the political writings of Joan Crawford’s niece, Ben Smith. He has done much political writing on-line, with the writer’s bio always including this: “Former Navy SEAL, Benjamin Smith took an oath to defend our Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. As an author, speaker, political strategist and ardent Constitutionalist, Benjamin Smith continues to battle tyranny and defend the freedoms that enabled American exceptionalism.” Smith appears happy to use the fact that he is a former Navy SEAL as a political weapon, connecting in a disturbing fashion the fight between those fought in battle in Iraq with political disputes back home, happy to use military service as a cudgel in politics, as long as it is to his purpose. Here is a video of a Tea Party rally, with Debbie Lee, where the death of her late son in battle is used without compunction for political gain. The issue Lee brings up again and again at that rally is that Harry Reid called those in the military “losers”, and betrayed them thus – though there is no record of Reid doing anything of the kind.

Smith’s other writings demonstrate an animus toward the current administration that is not centered on leaks, but seems to view them as inherently hostile to american values. One post begins: “You are at war. Your way of life is under siege. Lose this war, and your family will be slaves.”2; that same post compares the administration to Lenin and Stalin, in their attempts to indoctrinate the people through their children3; Smith likens the Iraqi militias to Saul Alinsky4; in another post, he compares the Obama campaign slogan, “Forward”, to the Hitler slogan, “Vorwarts”5; another compares opposition to the Tea Party to Hitler burning books6; other posts at the radiopatriot blog, not by Smith, are also of interest7. A short addendum: while writing this, Foreign Policy published a brief piece, “In Facebook postings, OPSEC spokesman rips ‘Communist-in-Chief Hussein Mao-bama’”, on some of the more unsettling, and frankly, racist, postings of Smith; within is a link to whoisformernavysealbenjaminsmith.com, a site that catalogs his more controversial statements.

A post on the Bin Laden raid, “Navy SEAL Hands Obama his Arse” (defeating the president in argument, I think, not Smith offering his own up for ass play), which echoes the theme of “Dishonorable Disclosures”, that Obama had only an incidental role in the Bin Laden killing, and presents the president as an anti-american, entirely alien figure:

You do not speak for me or any American military man because though you may now be Commander in Chief, you are not the man to whom we can point our sons and say “This is the American dream, this is American exceptionalism, this is what I wish for your future”, because you Sir are NONE of these things. You Sir, are the antithesis of American Exceptionalism. Your idols are Saul Alinksi and Karl Marx and your revolutionary dreams and anti-American ideals poison your every policy. Your every action betrays the fact that in your soul you do not understand what it is to be an American, not what America truly is. Your agenda from the beginning has been to get rid of and kill everything that is and ever was American. You who so easily dismisses America’s greatness and bows to foreigners… YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME.

Though a small detail, it might be of great relevance that Smith’s post on creeping progressivism is prefaced by the note that he is reading Cleon Skousen’s The Naked Communist. I find it notable, not because Skousen, a fool heavily promoted by Glenn Beck, was a crank and a fraud, but that one of the main allegations made in the book was that Roosevelt Secretary of Commerce Harry Hopkins gave fissile material to Russia8. Smith is struck by the similarity between what he sees now, and what’s portrayed in Skousen’s book, an insight into how he sees the current administration, as a traitorous force, in league with America’s enemies.

I laugh at this man, but that should not understate the possibility of potential danger here. Smith looks about him and sees fellow citizens with diminished means and diminished dignity, and is angry about it. This anger is directed at an all-seeing, controlling progressive elite, cynically channeled by various conservative groups who maintain the same policies that have brought so many around Smith into want. The blame for this wanton condition will always be shifted to a non-christian alien other, because this is the enemy the conservative elite wants Smith to have, and because this is the enemy that Smith would prefer to have as well. That this man is a Navy SEAL, an instrument of force, is not incidental to the equation. It is through the potential exercise of force, and the connection to that force, that many find the only dignity they have. The impoverished of any ghetto find some brief power in the fear anyone inside or outside the ghetto feels towards them. This, I think, is not unconnected to the significance of a soldier to a community in decline, or to the significance of military power. It might be said that when Barack Obama is president, the connection of a stagnant white community to this power, this dignity is lost. Those who think men and women like Smith can simply be manipulated for electoral outcomes, are playing with fire. They think this lightning can be bottled, when it cannot. That Smith is often a ridiculous man does not make his alienated attitude, and his connection to lethal force, any less disturbing.

Back to the show:

SIMON
I feel really badly for our U.S. Navy SEALs. In particular, SEAL team six, who conducted the Bin Laden raid. They were identified. And now you can believe that we have enemies that are trying to identify them. It has placed them, and their families, at risk. And anybody, that thinks it hasn’t, is being naive.

Again, Bergen ably dismissed this.

Next part of the ad is devoted to the joint project Stuxnet, which successfully disabled a number of Iranian nuclear centrifuges.

NARRATOR
But the leaks did not end with the Bin Laden raid. A recent series of intelligence leaks has been bombarding the airwaves. Even the president’s political friends know this is not right. One recent leak exposed a joint intelligence operation of the United States and Israel to develop a computer worm, known as the Stuxnet worm. A very powerful program capable of shutting down sophisticated computer systems. And we made good use of it, stopping the Iranians, and setting their operations back by years.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

TED RUSTMANN
The Stuxnet thing, it worked, it was a good thing. It may have denied the Iranians from getting their nuclear capability for a year or two years, or whatever it is. It worked. It was a good deal. It was a good operation. Why the hell talk about it?

NARRATOR
This administration willfully leaked the existence of Stuxnet, allowing our enemies to learn more of our secrets, and our operations.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

Why would anyone do this? What is the cost of trading national secrets for political capital?

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

BILL COWAN
When we stand up and admit that we were part of putting Stuxnet together with out Israeli friends, we really undermined our ability, one: to have the Israelis or anyone else work with us on the technology side, and secondly, we’ve made it very clear to the Iranians: who did it and who they need to be coming back to pay back.

Bergen counters this neatly in his own article, pointing out that Stuxnet was a well-known quantity by the time the New York Times wrote their articles, “Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran” by David E. Sanger, and “Israeli Test on Worm Called Crucial in Iran Nuclear Delay” by William J. Broad, John Markoff and David E. Sanger, on Olympic Games, the clandestine program to sabotage the Iranian nuclear facilities. From “How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History” from August 2011, by Kim Zetter, we learn the following: the centrifuge failures were first observed by the IAEA in January 20109; Stuxnet was discovered by researchers outside Iran, and successfully taken apart and re-engineered, their findings published in August 201010; various details of the malware made clear that its focus was on industrial controls locathe ted within Iran11; in November of that same year, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization accused the west of infecting his country’s nuclear facilities12. In January 2011, before “Israeli Test on Worm” article, Meir Dagan, head of Israel’s Mossad, announced that Iran’s nuclear program had been set back by several years, an announcement that took place within days by Hilary Clinton’s statement declaring the same thing13.

I mention all this to make obvious that the idea that Stuxnet was “revealed” through leaks by the administration is a reckless and stupid assertion. The secrets of the Stuxnet worm had already been exposed and revealed a year before by coders unconnected with the government, and the Iranians had already pointed an accusing finger toward Israel and the United States. A further point: the Times article “U.S. Rejects Aid for Israeli Raid on Nuclear Site”, from January 11, 2009, details the Bush administration’s efforts to derail the Iranian nuclear program through non-traditional means, sourced partly by off-the-record interviews with former Bush administration officials. What the article describes is the beginning of Olympic Games, the program continued under the Obama administration – written about the clandestine attempt to stop Iran’s nuclear program before the Stuxnet virus had even been discovered and reverse engineered. Somehow, the current executive is condemned for articles sourced from leaks, but the previous executive is not.

It should also be emphasized that Senator Dianne Feinstein’s concern was not with leaks coming from the top of the White House, but often with outside consultants. This is explicit in the interview (the transcript for CNN’s Situation Room is here) from which the film extracts its quotes.

BLITZER: But it looks like the Republicans, at least, are accusing the White House, the Obama administration, of deliberately leaking some of this information to score political points in the reelection campaign.

I assume you’re not willing to go that far?

FEINSTEIN: Well, that’s correct. I don’t believe any of this came directly out of the top ranks of the White House. I think one of the problems is information is not closely held sufficiently.

BLITZER: But what about the journalists and the news organizations who published this information?

FEINSTEIN: Well, this is a big problem, because what you have are very sophisticated journalists. David Sanger is one of the best. I spoke — he came into my office. He saw me. You know, we’ve worked together at the Aspen Strategy Institute. He assured me that what he was publishing, he had worked out with various agencies and he didn’t believe that anything was revealed that wasn’t known already.

Well, I read “The New York Times” article and my heart dropped, because he wove a tapestry which has an impact that’s beyond any single one thing. And he’s very good at what he does. And he spent a year figuring it all out. And he’s just one. And this is a problem.

It’s also a problem that we have people consulting. They live their life with classified information. They then get a consultancy with your show or cer — your station or some other station and they’re talking, inadvertently, I think, about information that should not be talked about.

We have to take a look at all of this. We have to take a look at the oath of non-disclosure that people take. We have to strengthen that.

Also: Blitzer, not a talking head noted for his skepticism, questions whether Feinstein is correct in her assertion over the number of unauthorized disclosures:

BLITZER: I’ve got to tell you, we’re going to leave it on this note, Senator. I’ve been hearing these allegations for 30 plus years that I’ve been in Washington, going back to the Frank Church committee, one of your predecessors on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and, yes, occasionally these leaks do cause some serious problems for the U.S. National security apparatus. But the business continues and the U.S. Manages to go along the way. I’m not denying that some of these leaks cause major, major problems for the US. But this is not a new phenomenon. I’ve been hearing about these problems for many, many years.

FEINSTEIN: Well, I’ve been on the Intelligence Committee for 11 years and I have never seen it worse, I can tell you that.

BLITZER: All right. That’s fair enough.

The next, and final, focus is on kill lists and drone technology, which are treated as secrets that were suddenly revealed by the current administration.

NARRATOR
We live in a dangerous world. But does it do us any good when it becomes public that the president of the United States has a kill list? That he, personally, is approving firing drone missiles?

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

BEN SMITH
Kill lists, I mean, that’s part of the whole giving out of things that are again secret and quiet, things you don’t talk about. But is in to make things public…is…wrong! [sic]

SCOTT TAYLOR
We have divulged to the world that we’re using drone technology, and conducting strikes inside of different countries. We’ve also divulged to the world via this administration at a very high level obviously, the president himself has a kill list, and he’s making a decision as to who will be killed by these drones. Drones aren’t like nuclear weapons, in the sense that they’re difficult to hide. The proliferation of drone technology is very easy…it’s easy to do. Other countries have drones, other countries are building drones. So, I think we set a profoundly bad precedent by making these decisions and leaking the information that the president himself is using drone technology and deciding who will die.

That drones were a well-known matter for years is almost self-evident, without requirement of proof. Richard Clarke in Against All Enemies from 2004, describes the test-piloting a drone14. Predator by Matt J. Martin and Charles W. Sasser, from 2010, is a first-hand account of a drone pilot. Here (PDF) is a news account from The Dalles Chronicle April 10, 2010 reporting on a pro-drone rally which featured Debbie Lee, one of this film’s participants, among its speakers15. Kill lists, called “hit lists”, were mentioned, along with many other details in Daily Beast‘s “Inside The Killing Machine”, an interview by Tara McKelvey with former CIA acting counsel John A. Rizzo, from February 2011. Many of these stories are all easily found, taken from a cursory look at the exhaustive “The Rise of the Killer Drones” by Michael Hastings, all stories published long before the movie’s targeted piece, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will”, by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, which came out in May of this year. It should also be noted that Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, is quoted on the record for this article, and is quoted praising the president’s record. So this article, which is cited as an example of dangerous leaking, features an on the record quote by a former CIA head; it should also be noted that Hayden is currently a foreign policy adviser for Mitt Romney, whom this ad hopes to try to elect.

There is also something that should be noted about Scott Taylor; Dilanian’s story mentions Taylor as chairman of OPSEC, the organization behind this ad, as well as a participant in a 2011 Discovery channel documentary, “Secrets of Seal Team Six”, a documentary which supposedly divulged secrets of the military unit, and which stressed that the military had urged SEAL members not to participate in the project. This is notable in light of a post by Navy SEAL / Joan Crawford medium Ben Smith, who writes the following in “Loose Lips Will Sink Ships”, a post which encapsulates all the concerns of this film, employing much of the same language and a few of the same patriotic images:

Apparently, the greatest generation is a dying breed. Ask anyone that you know who lived through the times of World War 2 on the home front and they will tell you of the secrecy that was involved with day to day life knowing that the enemy could be listening. The civilians and more importantly the military, government and media knew that “Loose Lips Sink Ships” a phrase often seen on posters hung in public places. This was called OPSEC, (Operational Security), which simply means that there were things that you DID NOT TALK ABOUT.

But the leaks coming out of this Administration are not limited to the Osama Bin Laden raid. In this past year there have been books and movies produced which describe the secret Special Forces unit tactics.

So, Smith’s reaction to this flux of books and movies which revealed the secrets of the SEAL division is paradoxical: he joins a group to produce an ad attacking such leaks, a group headed by a man complicit in making one of the movies that has made him so angry. As always in an election season, there are many funny moments. As always in an election season, almost all are unintentional.

The concluding notes:

NARRATOR
These experts, these heroes who have served their country, risked their lives have had enough. They know the time to act, is now.

BEN SMITH
As a citizen, it is my civic duty to tell the president to stop leaking information to the enemy. It will get Americans killed.

SCOTT TAYLOR
The accumulation of all the…and the consistency of very high level leaks, again, really number one: puts our military members, potentially their families, other civilians, their support personnel at risk. Of safety, and potentially, of death. These leaks. On top of that, you have folks from other countries understand and would move and change their tactics to combat our tactics based on these leaks that were disclosed. It’s just not the way the military does business. I believe at the very highest levels they should be held accountable for it.

FRED RUSTMANN
I don’t get it. I mean, I don’t come from that culture. I’m not a political guy. I don’t come from that culture. I don’t see…why, anybody, would purposely put lives in jeopardy.

I think it’s apt to quote again from Rustmann’s interview with Sean Hannity, about the breaking of Valerie Plame’s cover.

COLMES: Didn’t they expose a front operation that she helped run, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, this made-up company. And wasn’t that exposed as a result of all this, and can’t this damage intelligence operations and our security?

RUSTMANN: Well, actually, no, because it isn’t a big deal. It was a light non-official cover. There was, you know, a phone. There was very little backstopping to that company. It wasn’t like she was working for a major multi-national American company or foreign company where there could be some severe blowback if that were to come to…

COLMES: Are you saying there are no repercussions of this? There’s no repercussions of her having been exposed as a covert CIA agent, even though she was non-covert at one point?

RUSTMANN: There are no major repercussions to the cover mechanism, no. To her — the question again gets down to whether somebody did this with malice or forethought. Then it’s a crime, and that person goes to jail.

This interview, along with an interview given to the Washington Times making similar sentiments, was done at the very moment when White House operator Karl Rove suddenly found himself in great trouble over the fact that he himself may have leaked. Then, Rustmann played defense, now, he plays offense. Rustmann claims not to be a political animal, but this fish appears to crawl on land better than he thinks.

NARRATOR
Protecting military secrets has been paramount to our country from its earliest time. The leaks by this administration have violated the trust established over the last two hundred years.

Dishonorable Disclosures Refutation

The quote is from a Bob Kerrey editorial in the New York Daily News:

By describing certain methods — the name of the unit involved, the kinds of equipment employed, the nature of intelligence collected and techniques of insertion and extraction used in the operation — the President violated a key rule of clandestine work.

Soon after the operation, the U.S. made it clear it had identified Bin Laden’s body using DNA. Not long thereafter, Pakistani intelligence had arrested an apparent CIA informant, a doctor named Shakil Afridi, who allegedly helped run a fake vaccine program in Abbotabad designed to confirm Bin Laden’s presence by collecting DNA samples. Was the revelation connected to this man’s apprehension?

By June 2011, Pakistan’s military spy agency had arrested a handful of informants who had allegedly helped make the CIA raid possible. Would they have been identified if the White House had been more tight-lipped from the start? We will never know.

In addition, by shining a celebratory spotlight on one branch of special ops at the expense of others, we undercut the camaraderie of inter-service collaboration that has been the hallmark of this command since 1986.

Perhaps most important, because of the way the President rushed to tell the American people about the raid, I believe he made the already difficult relationship with Pakistan, an important ally of NATO in Afghanistan’s fight against the Taliban, even more difficult.

I believe all points raised in this editorial – that the announcement should have been delayed, that it should have been done with co-ordination with Pakistan, the arrest of Shakil Afridi – have all been dealt with, and refuted, by Bergen. I also note a closing passage in the editorial, relevant given this ad’s attempt to take credit away from the President in this victory:

President Obama deserves full credit for the decision to authorize this operation. The risks of failure were great. The benefits of success are large.

The last notes, which I quote without interruption, as they carry no claims, simple renewed assertions that secrets have been betrayed, and action must be taken.

BILL COWAN
Mister President, to you and those close to you who hold some of the nation’s highest secrets – please: be quiet about it.

PAUL VALLELY
With all due respect, Mister President, we need you to close your lips, and to shut up when it comes to operational security regarding our armed forces. It’s critical for you as a leader to understand that, and what the SEALs say, we do it, we don’t talk about it.

JAMIE WILLIAMSON
I was recently at…a military installation. Speaking with former colleagues, and told them what we were doing, and what our goals were…to maintain a standing watch-dog organization that would prevent any politician from exploiting military gains for political secrets [sic]. And they all said, you’ve got to do this. You’ve got to speak, because we can’t.

SIMON
We have thousands, tens of thousands. If not, hundreds of thousands of people, both in the intelligence community and our military. They deserve to have us speak on their behalf. They can’t. They are prohibited from doing it. They might even get fired. It’s one of the reasons I’m appearing anonymously here. Because I still have friends and associates that are working within the intelligence community, and I still have activities that I support with the military. I risk jeopardizing those things, and my friends. And the people I care about. That are doing their best to protect this country. That’s the reason I’m appearing in this way.

NARRATOR
Duty. Honor. Country. Values fought for by our heroes selflessly, and without thoughts of glory or recognition, while protecting the freedoms that make America the guiding light around the world.

PAUL VALLELY
We gotta stand up. This is our country, this is our constitution. And we have to speak out. Finally, we have to speak out and say we will not take this any more, enough is enough.

BILL COWAN
If I had one piece of advice for this administration, it would be the same thing former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates said: Shut the *beep* [what, oh what, word could it be?] up!

I note only one final theme in this movie, which I think is there because of only one personal detail of the current president. I list the quotes from the film that underscore the theme. I bold one part of one quote which especially emphasizes it:

SCOTT TAYLOR
I think the disclosure of specific details of the raid, how we got there, how many people we used, what the tactics were to conduct the mission itself, and what we did afterwards…I believe a ten year old would be able to understand that if you disclose how we got there, how we took down the building, how many people were there, it’s gonna hinder future operations, and certainly hurt the success of those future operations for DOD, for military, for intelligence community as a whole.

BILL COWAN
Mister President, to you and those close to you who hold some of the nation’s highest secrets – please: be quiet about it.

PAUL VALLELY
With all due respect, Mister President, we need you to close your lips, and to shut up when it comes to operational security regarding our armed forces. It’s critical for you as a leader to understand that, and what the SEALs say, we do it, we don’t talk about it.

BILL COWAN
If I had one piece of advice for this administration, it would be the same thing former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates said: Shut the *beep* [what, oh what, word could it be?] up!

The attitude expressed here, is not simply contempt or exasperation. It is, significantly, contempt with a man, a president of the United States, who is treated as a child. He does not even know as much as a ten year old. He needs to be lectured on keeping quiet. That he must keep his lips closed. That he must shut the fuck up. This, I think, is very different from the attitude agency and military personnel might have had to his exasperating predecessor, an ignorant incompetent, who might have had the emotional maturity and patience of a spoiled child, but was at all times addressed as a man – his maturity falling short of what is expected of a man. That this particular attitude is provoked by one personal detail, a man’s race, I consider an obvious point, and don’t think I need to dwell on it. That this condescending attitude comes from a group of men who, based on this documentary, are either dishonest or hopelessly incompetent, unable to read a simple newspaper before condemning a man for disloyalty, only makes the attitude more nettlesome, and fills me with such bile, that I have no appetite to dwell on it either.

1 An explanation for this joke is here.

2 The opening paragraphs of the post:

You are at war. Your way of life is under siege. Lose this war, and your family will be slaves.

A very nasty dictator once said, “Politics is war without bloodshed, and war is politics with bloodshed.” That was Chairman Mao Tse Tung, mass murderer of millions, Marxist dictator of China, and the unsmiling Asian guy in the stylized posters that is the hero of our present government.

America’s present political leadership ascended to power under the name “Progressive”. Let’s spend some time today finding out what that label really means, and how America is at war without bloodshed.

3 The indoctrination of children:

Progressives know that the battle of ideas cannot be won head to head, so clandestine warfare is their logical choice. They are careful to subvert rather than overthrow institutions, leaving ordinary Americans “fat and happy” while the termites nibble the floor out from under them.

And as Lenin and Stalin knew, schools are the key to the future of their ideology, and the left’s education strategy is in high gear. How many children do you know who are sure that Marxism and socialism are bad news, not the right path for America ? These days, American children parrot the alleged VIRTUES of those ideologies. The ancient Roman Empire had the official government youth organization called “Juventus”, where they were taught to worship their emperor and be loyal to Rome unto death. 20th Century equivalents include brown shirt “Hitler Youth”. Our educational system has systematically been taken over by leftists, and the history they leave OUT of our kids’ education could fill a thousand books.

4 From Iran: A Navy SEAL sums up the situation:

SCIRI, Badr corps, al-Quds, Madhi Malitia, Sadr and a bunch of other groups are all people that I have been exposed to in Iraq and it is my belief that these guys really mean what they are saying and doing (These are groups funded by the Iranian Gov). They are evil. They are so efficient and heartless because they feel they are benevolent and instructed by God to purvey their treachery. These are not people that you can have a cordial conversation with or even negotiate with. Their way is Saul Alinski [sic] without conscience and ordained by God because the ends are the same as the means, Righteous.

5 From the opening paragraph of “It’s About the Constitution, Stupid”:

As people are looking for the reason of why the court decision came down in the way it did from the supreme court justice that seemed to have the most stringent constitutional sense look to the progressive play book. As we have seen the progressive scourge take on the mantra of “fundamentally changing the United States of America” it has not been the old adage of “One step back and two steps forward” it has been more of the Blitzkrieg strategy of Go Go Go! Turning the saying into “3-5 steps forward then take a step back if you have to”. As there campaign slogan says itself “Vorwarts”…. Oh wait a second, that is the German Socialists party slogan from early 1940’s under HITLER only now translated into English as FORWARD.

6 From “Ben Smith, US Navy SEAL, speaks out Veterans Day”:

I do not see the Tea Party Express as an event like a wedding or a bar mitzvah or a bridge tournament. If you think so, I respectfully disagree.

This is not just a bus trip across a pretty landscape during which we listen to some nice music and peddle our wares and listen to the people’s applause and feel special for a little bit until the event is over. WRONG!!!

The people who would wish us to not succeed are the ones who would burn every bit of evidence that we ever existed. Our philosophies, our thoughts, our constitution, our books, our history would all be destroyed. Literally this happened in the past on numerous occasions, most recently Hitler’s burning of the books. It was to get rid of an opposing ideology.

7 One post has a poem referring to Sandra Fluke: “This is the maiden in a Georgetown dorm / That milked the taxpayers for the condoms and porn”; “Friedman’s Laws of History” states that “Wherever and whenever Muslims reach a certain critical mass, they attempt to subjugate the adjacent non-Muslim community, using violence when necessary. It is an article of faith. A random walk through today’s world conflicts proves that beyond a reasonable doubt.”; “Coming Soon: The Romney / Ryan typhoon” praises the billboard which had as a slogan “The Navy SEALs removed one threat to America, voters must remove another”, referring to Osama Bin Ladan and Barack Obama, respectively, as the billboard of the year; “Marco Rubio simply is not Constitutionally eligible. And he knows it.” explains that neither Marco Rubio, nor Bobby Jindal, nor Barack Obama are eligible to be president, as they all had one parent who was not a U.S citizen at the time of their birth; the post “Rumor has it Shemp Smith prefers sausage” – that Fox News’s Shepard Smith has a hankering for metaphorical sausage and this affects his view on gay marriage – appears, without intentional irony, right after the post “Dumb Clucks – damaged by the left” – which argues that one can be against gay marriage without having any prejudice against gays. It would seem that having a preference for this metaphorical sausage would be irrelvant to consideration of one’s political views; certainly there are women who have a preference for this metaphorical sausage and their views are still, occasionally, considered without this preference brought up. Rush Limbaugh, who appears to have a preference for non-metaphorical sausage, is quoted approvingly by the blog.

8 From the preface to US Navy SEAL Ben Smith: “Take a stand!”:

Ben [Smith] called me today to tell me that he’s currently reading Cleon Skousen’s book The Naked Communist, and was struck by the similarity of message to this post he wrote a year and a half ago.

From Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance by Alexander Zaitchik:

Willard Cleon Skousen was born in 1913 to American parents in a small Mormon frontier town in Alberta, Canada. When he was ten, his family moved to California, where he remained until he shipped off to England and Ireland for two years of Mormon missionary work. In 1935, after graduating from a California junior college, the twenty – three – year – old Skousen moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked briefly for a New Deal farm agency. He then began a fi fteen – year career with the FBI and earned a law degree from George Washington University in 1940. His posts at the FBI were administrative and clerical in nature, first in Washington and later in Kansas City.

After retiring from the FBI in 1951, Skousen joined the faculty of Brigham Young University in Utah. His life as a religion professor was suspended in 1956, when he began a tumultuous four years as chief of police in Salt Lake City.

While serving as police chief, Skousen had begun laying the groundwork for a career as an anticommunist speaker. In 1958, Skousen published an exposé – cum – history of the global communist movement, The Naked Communist. A work of laughably shoddy scholarship, the book went unnoticed by professional historians except those in Skousen’s Utah backyard. His résumé to that point — failed chief of police, part – time BYU religion professor, FBI paper pusher — was not that of a scholar.

“Skousen had never read a word of Marx and didn’t know what he was talking about,” says Louis Midgley, a historian and a former colleague of Skousen’s at BYU. “The faculty was embarrassed that he was even allowed on the staff as an instructor of theology.”

Skousen was more than just another anticommunist opportunist; he was a fraud. Although Skousen claimed that his years with the FBI had exposed him to inside information, his employment records show that his work at the bureau was largely secretarial in nature.

“Skousen never worked in the domestic intelligence division, and he never had signifi cant exposure to data concerning communist matters,” says Ernie Lazar, an independent researcher who has studied the internal documentation of Skousen’s FBI employment history.

Along with touting his imagined exposure to highly classified FBI business, Skousen trumpeted the expertise he claimed to have gained while researching The Naked Communist. But this research was even shakier than his résumé . Among the stories in Skousen’s fantastical arsenal was the alleged treason of FDR adviser Harry Hopkins. According to Skousen, Hopkins gave the Soviets “50 suitcases” worth of information on the Manhattan Project and nearly half of the nation’s supply of enriched uranium.

9 From Zetter’s article:

It was January 2010, and investigators with the International Atomic Energy Agency had just completed an inspection at the uranium enrichment plant outside Natanz in central Iran, when they realized that something was off within the cascade rooms where thousands of centrifuges were enriching uranium.

Normally Iran replaced up to 10 percent of its centrifuges a year, due to material defects and other issues. With about 8,700 centrifuges installed at Natanz at the time, it would have been normal to decommission about 800 over the course of the year.

But when the IAEA later reviewed footage from surveillance cameras installed outside the cascade rooms to monitor Iran’s enrichment program, they were stunned as they counted the numbers. The workers had been replacing the units at an incredible rate — later estimates would indicate between 1,000 and 2,000 centrifuges were swapped out over a few months.

10 Zetter’s article:

Experts determined that the virus was designed to target Simatic WinCC Step7 software, an industrial control system made by the German conglomerate Siemens that was used to program controllers that drive motors, valves and switches in everything from food factories and automobile assembly lines to gas pipelines and water treatment plants.

On Aug. 6, Symantec published a blog post saying that Stuxnet was a targeted attack aimed at hijacking the Programmable Logic Controller in a Siemens control system by injecting malicious code.

The fact that Stuxnet was injecting commands into the PLC [Programmable Logic Controller, an interface for controlling industrial processes such as a centrifuge] and masking that it was doing so was evidence that it was designed, not for espionage as everyone had believed, but for physical sabotage. The researchers were stunned. It was the first time anyone had seen digital code in the wild being used to physically destroy something in the real world.

11 Zetter’s article:

As [technical director of Symantec Security Response] [Eric] Chien and [Symantec Security Response manager of operations] O Murchu mapped the geographical location of the infections, a strange pattern emerged. Out of the initial 38,000 infections, about 22,000 were in Iran. Indonesia was a distant second, with about 6,700 infections, followed by India with about 3,700 infections. The United States had fewer than 400. Only a small number of machines had Siemens Step 7 software installed – just 217 machines reporting in from Iran and 16 in the United States.

The infection numbers were way out of sync with previous patterns of worldwide infections — such as what occurred with the prolific Conficker worm — in which Iran never placed high, if at all, in infection stats. South Korea and the United States were always at the top of charts in massive outbreaks, which wasn’t a surprise since they had the highest numbers of internet users. But even in outbreaks centered in the Middle East or Central Asia, Iran never figured high in the numbers. It was clear the Islamic Republic was at the center of the Stuxnet infection.

The sophistication of the code, plus the fraudulent certificates, and now Iran at the center of the fallout made it look like Stuxnet could be the work of a government cyberarmy — maybe even a United States cyberarmy.

This made Symantec’s sinkhole an audacious move. In intercepting data the attackers were expecting to receive, the researchers risked tampering with a covert U.S. government operation.

The attackers were ruthlessly intent on spreading their malware, but in a strangely limited way. Unlike most malware that used e-mail or malicious websites to infect masses of victims at once, none of Stuxnet’s exploits leveraged the internet; they all spread via local area networks. There was one primary way Stuxnet would spread from one facility to another, and that was on an infected USB thumb drive smuggled into the facility in someone’s pocket.

It appeared the attackers were targeting systems they knew were not connected to the internet. And given that they were using four zero-days to do it, the targets had to be high-value.

It took three weeks to reach a startling conclusion — Stuxnet wasn’t just aimed at attacking a specific type of Siemens controller, it was a precision weapon bent on sabotaging a specific facility. Embedded in Stuxnet’s code was a dossier detailing the specific technical configuration of the facility it sought. Any system that didn’t match precisely this configuration would go unharmed: Stuxnet would shut itself down and move on to the next system until it found its victim. It was clear to Langner that Stuxnet was the product of a well-resourced government with precise inside knowledge of the target it was seeking.

Although the exact facility in Stuxnet’s sights wasn’t spelled out, [security expert] [Ralph] Langner had no doubts. “This is about taking out Bushehr,” he announced to Rosen and Tim one day, referring to a nuclear power plant in Iran that had been scheduled to begin operation in August 2010 but had been delayed. Langner’s colleagues stared at him dumbfounded. They weren’t eager to follow him down a path of state-sponsored cyberwarfare that seemed likely to lead to Israel and the United States, and possibly even Germany, as the suspected aggressors behind Stuxnet.

The malware would sit quietly on the system doing reconnaissance for about two weeks, then launch its attack swiftly and quietly, increasing the frequency of the converters to 1,410Hz for 15 minutes, before restoring them to a normal frequency of 1,064Hz. The frequency would remain at this level for 27 days, before Stuxnet would kick in again and drop the frequency down to 2Hz for 50 minutes.

Chien did a search online and discovered that frequency converters that operated at 600Hz and above were regulated for export in the United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We realized, wait a second, these things, at this frequency, could be used for uranium enrichment,” Chien recalls. Langner had gone out on a limb in asserting that Stuxnet was targeting centrifuges at a nuclear plant, but now Symantec had strong evidence to back it up.

David Albright at the Institute for Science and International Security, which closely monitors Iran’s nuclear program, supplied a crucial bit of information linking Natanz and Stuxnet.

After reading the reports from Langner and the Symantec team, Albright revealed in December that the nominal frequency at which Natanz’s centrifuges operated was 1,064Hz — the exact frequency Stuxnet restored converters to after drastically increasing and decreasing it during the malware’s attack. Albright found one other correlation. Data in Stuxnet indicated that it was targeting devices configured in groups of 164; Albright noted that each of Natanz’s cascades had 164 centrifuges.

12 Zetter’s article:

Then, on Nov. 23, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, provided what appeared to be the first acknowledgement that the worm had hit Iran’s nuclear facilities. “One year and several months ago, Westerners sent a virus to [our] country’s nuclear sites,” he told Iranian reporters, without mentioning the virus by name. He downplayed the virus’s success, however, asserting that vigilant workers had swiftly discovered the malware at its point of entry and prevented it from harming equipment.

In a press conference [November 30th], Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared to reference the virus Salehi had mentioned, and contradict him when he said that “enemies” of the state had indeed sabotaged Iran’s centrifuges with a malicious software program. “They succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts,” he said, without naming Stuxnet or the facility that was attacked.

13 From “Israeli Test on Worm Called Crucial in Iran Nuclear Delay” by Broad, Markoff, and Sanger:

In recent days, the retiring chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton separately announced that they believed Iran’s efforts had been set back by several years. Mrs. Clinton cited American-led sanctions, which have hurt Iran’s ability to buy components and do business around the world.

The gruff Mr. Dagan, whose organization has been accused by Iran of being behind the deaths of several Iranian scientists, told the Israeli Knesset in recent days that Iran had run into technological difficulties that could delay a bomb until 2015. That represented a sharp reversal from Israel’s long-held argument that Iran was on the cusp of success.

14 From Clarke’s Enemies:

[Richard Clarke’s Deputy] Roger Cressey and I made midnight trips to watch Kandahar on a giant video screen in northern Virginia. A small team sat at their consoles, not quite believing that what they were seeing was happening right then on the other side of the globe. This sort of intelligence capability was something we had seen only in Hollywood movies.

The bird flew quietly over a known terrorist camp and, as it did, a Land Rover was headed toward the gate. “Follow that car,” the mission controller called out to the “pilot” seated in front of him in the darkened Virginia room. He then turned to me and Cressey and with a big grin said, “I always wanted to say that.” The pilot kept the Land Rover on-screen as it moved through market squares and in and out of a tunnel. FInally it pulled up in front of a villa and those in the vehicle went inside. “Well, we now know that villa is al Qaeda-related.”

Predators flew in September and October of 2000. One Predator was damaged during takeoff, setting off a bureaucratic fight over who would pay the few hundred thousand dollars to repair it. On another flight, the Taliban’s radar detected the Predator and an ancient MiG fighter was launched. The Predator’s camera watched as the fighter plane lumbered into the air, climbed, and began a big circle that ended with the fighter about two miles from the Predator, aimed right at it. The image of the MiG grew from a speck to en enormous object hurtling at the camera. “Holy shit, it’s going to hit us!” the controller yelled, as half the people in the control room dove under their desks. Ten thousand miles away, the MiG flew right by the Predator, apparently unable to see it.

15 An excerpt:

Troop supporters cheer war drones
War veteran and Gold Star mother lead pro-drone event

by Ben McCarty
Hood River News

Standing before a crowd in front of Overlook Park in Hood River, retired Air Force Col. Lynn Guenther made his reason for appearing before them simple and clear: “We are here because we care,” the Vietnam POW said.

With a conference on the use of robotic drones and warfare going on two blocks away at Riverside Community Church, about 150 people gathered in front of the park, waving American flags and signs with slogans like “God Bless our troops” and “Drones save lives” to present a different view.

Joining Guenther on the podium were U.S. Navy Seal Benjamin Smith and Debbie Lee, the mother of Marc Lee, who grew up in Hood River and was the first Seal killed in action in Iraq in 2006.

(All images and script quotes copyright OPSEC productions.)

(Since initial posting, a number of edits have been made, adding supporting footnotes from Wired magazine, some additional images for clarity, sections on the Kerrey and Mueller quotes, and some small changes for aesthetics, grammar, and spelling. A small typo made it appear that Richard Clarke claimed to have once test-piloted a drone, when he had only observed this piloting.)

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