At least they're consistent ...
Report: White House Ruins Terrorist Intel
White House Denies It Prematurely Released Al Qaeda Video, Hurting Intelligence-Gathering
WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2007
(CBS) A small, privately run intelligence analysis company says that a Bush administration leak has ruined years of clandestine work to find and exploit al Qaeda secrets on the Internet, the Washington Post reports.
SITE Institute, one of many private companies that troll extremist Web content and use secret methods to find unreleased material and release it early, against the wishes of the militants creating it, was the first to obtain an Osama bin Laden video last month.
According to the report, Rita Katz, who runs SITE, told The Post she turned the video over to the White House on the condition that it not be made public until the material was released on line by al Qaeda's own media wing.
Katz told The Post that by the afternoon of Sept. 7, the day she turned the video over to White House officials, it had been leaked and was appearing on myriad news Web sites and television networks around the world.
SITE claims the White House leak - the source of which had not been confirmed, according to the report - tipped al Qaeda off to the glitch that had been exploited for years by the company, rendering the practice useless for future intelligence gathering.
"Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless," Katz told The Post.
CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer reports the Bush administration said Tuesday it was "concerned" to learn of SITE's complaints.
Spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters, "anytime a citizen comes forward to provide information, we want to encourage it and we want them to know their sources will be protected."
Perino insisted the White House was not the source of the leak last month. She referred reporters to the intelligence community for questions on what she described as any "process problem."
Other officials, speaking to The Post, played down the importance of Katz's work to the overall intelligence gathering effort of the U.S. government. "We have individuals in the right places dealing with all these issues, across all 16 intelligence agencies," Ross Feinstein, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence told the newspaper.
But off the record, some intelligence officials admitted that SITE had been of great help in obtaining al Qaeda secrets.
Terrorism expert and author Bruce Hoffman, who has worked as an advisor to the Bush White House in Iraq, tells CBSNews.com that SITE and other private intelligence companies have become a valuable tool for the government.
"The government has its own intelligence sources, its been monitoring these things, and one would hope it's comparing and contrasting, using this as supplements, using this to round out" government intelligence, Hoffman said.
The government has its own intelligence sources... and one would hope it's comparing and contrasting, using this as supplements.
Hoffman points out that one of the complaints of the 9/11 Commission was that the government didn't have a wide enough variety of intelligence sources, and firms like SITE help to fill that gap, fixing what was called a "lack of imagination".
Accurate, timely intelligence is America's most valuable weapon against the terrorist threat, which the White House classified Tuesday as "persistent and evolving".
Maer reports that the administration's newly-revised National Strategy for Homeland Security warns that al Qaeda will likely continue to "enhance its ability to attack America through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups." It predicts al Qaeda will likely intensify efforts to send operatives to the U.S.
The report says the U.S. faces "a persistent and evolving terrorist threat, primarily from violent Islamic terrorist groups and cells." It points to al Qaeda as "the most serious and dangerous manifestation of this threat."
Katz's company sells intelligence to a range of clients, including other private firms and military and intelligence agencies in the U.S. and other countries. Media organizations can also pay SITE for access to terrorist videos and audio's obtained, and analysis of the material.
Officials told CBS News on Sept. 7 that the U.S. government had obtained a copy of the new bin Laden video. Katz says that within 20 minutes of handing the material to two senior administration officials, with the request for secrecy, it was being downloaded from SITE's Web site by various intelligence agencies.
Al Qaeda's media arm had previously announced a new bin Laden video would be released ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks
Earlier that day, the White House said that any new video from bin Laden would serve to highlight threats the West faces.
Al Qaeda has frequently released video and audio propaganda to coincide with the anniversary of Sept. 11, and analysts interpreted the early September release as part of that effort.