On Wednesday, Eli Lake and Josh Rogin of The Daily Beast reported that the event that triggered the closing of 22 US embassies across the world was an intercepted “conference call between al Qaeda’s senior leaders and representatives of several of the group’s affiliates throughout the region.” According to Lake and Rogin, “The intercept provided the U.S. intelligence community with a rare glimpse into how al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, manages a global organization that includes affiliates in Africa, the Middle East, and southwest and southeast Asia.” That revelation follows hard on Monday’s reports that the government had intercepted communications from last week between Zawahiri and the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Nasser al-Wuhayshi.
There has been no comment from the White House or any member of Congress on these leaks. But as Lake and Rogin report, these leaks could significantly damage the US’ ability to monitor al Qaeda activity: “Al Qaeda leaders had assumed the conference calls, which give Zawahiri the ability to manage his organization from a remote location, were secure. But leaks about the original intercepts have likely exposed the operation that allowed the U.S. intelligence community to listen in on the al Qaeda board meetings.”
So, who leaked? That remains unclear. But there has been little or no blowback to the leaks, despite the fact that President Obama cancelled a scheduled meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin over his country’s asylum for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
The Obama administration is notoriously leaky, particularly when they have information beneficial to the president. Those leaks – including information on the identity of the group behind the killing of Osama Bin Laden – often have dramatic consequences for American defense capabilities.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).