The Guardian reports that members of the intelligence community are virtually apoplectic over the leaked underwear bombing plot foiled by a CIA informant who had infiltrated Al Qaeda:
Mike Scheur, the former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit, said the leaking about the nuts and bolts of British involvement was despicable and would make a repeat of the operation difficult. “MI6 should be as angry as hell. This is something that the prime minister should raise with the president, if he has the balls. This is really tragic,” Scheur said.
He added: “Any information disclosed is too much information. This does seem to be a tawdry political thing.”
The leak of this terror plot followed Obama’s surprise trip to Afghanistan to announce a marginal update to his widely-known troop withdrawal timetable, which was conveniently during the celebration of the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. In that self-aggrandizing photo op, only time and taxpayer money were wasted, but in this self-aggrandizing intelligence leak, the results will have real-world security consequences.
Another expert chimes in that Obama’s grandstanding will make the UK more hesitant to share intelligence information with the United States:
Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, said: “As for British Intelligence, I suppose, but do not know, that they must be very unhappy. They are often exasperated, quite reasonably, with their American friends, who are far more leak-prone than they.
“In their place, I would think two and three times before sharing with the Americans, and then only do it if I had to. The problem with that dynamic is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and what opportunities you might be missing when you decide not to share. The Americans are doing a very good job of undermining trust, and the problem starts at the top.”
The Obama Administration’s approach to foreign policy and homeland security can often be a baffling exercise: the rules of engagement in Afghanistan have been changed, dramatically increasing American casualties; diplomats bend over backward to appease the despotic, patriarchal Taliban; and yet, Obama himself tries to paint himself as a hawk with drone strikes and football spikes over a kill order which nearly took him a year to make.
It can be baffling, that is, without this defining caveat: anything for a positive headline. This latest leak, as Scheur notes, is “inexplicable” unless one factors in “tawdry” politics. The timing of this leak screamed for coverage in the vein of “Saved by Obama, Who Also Killed bin Laden.” Whether or not it would spoil an ally’s intelligence program was irrelevant. The metrics used to measure the United States’ safety are now the President’s reelection poll numbers.