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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Politicos leak intel secrets
as Air Force bars Times site

No one is howling for the head of Elisabeth Bumiller, though she disclosed classified information in the New York Times. No one is out to get the leakers, who were all politically connected muckamucks.

However, the Air Force has prohibited access to the New York Times web site.

From Bumiller's story:

'WASHINGTON — As President Obama prepares to release a review of American strategy in Afghanistan that will claim progress in the nine-year-old war there, two new classified intelligence reports offer a more negative assessment and say there is a limited chance of success unless Pakistan hunts down insurgents operating from havens on its Afghan border.

'The reports, one on Afghanistan and one on Pakistan, say that although there have been gains for the United States and NATO in the war, the unwillingness of Pakistan to shut down militant sanctuaries in its lawless tribal region remains a serious obstacle. American military commanders say insurgents freely cross from Pakistan into Afghanistan to plant bombs and fight American troops and then return to Pakistan for rest and resupply.

'The findings in the reports, called National Intelligence Estimates, represent the consensus view of the United States’ 16 intelligence agencies, as opposed to the military, and were provided last week to some members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. The findings were described by a number of American officials who read the reports’ executive summaries.'

You may say that the Times didn't publish actual copies of the summaries. But that is really a fine, in fact irrelevant, point. People who were not authorized to declassify the information did so.

Shouldn't the Obama group be in high dugeon? Where is the damn-the-leakers chorus of Gates, Clinton and Gibbs? Why isn't Lieberman threatening political retaliation against Times advertisers? Why isn't King urging that terrorism laws be used to get the leakers and Assange... er Bumiller?

Well, I suppose we could get a special prosecutor to look into the leaks, but why bother? Obama could always say he'd accidentally declassified the stuff by delegating declassification authority to Biden or somebody...

The Air Force has blocked the New York Times and Guardian web sites for hosting 'inappropriate' Wikileaks materials; meanwhile, top politicos are still spilling "national security" secrets to the Times.

From the Guardian:

'The US air force has blocked employees from accessing the websites of the Guardian, the New York Times and other news organisations carrying the WikiLeaks US embassy cables.

'At least 25 sites that have posted WikiLeaks files had been barred, said Major Toni Tones of the US air force's space command in Colorado. Tones said the action was taken in accordance with a policy that "routinely blocks air force network access to websites hosting inappropriate materials".

'According to the Wall Street Journal, staff who attempt to access the blocked sites instead see an on-screen message saying: "Access denied. Internet usage is logged and monitored."

'While the US defence department has issued orders against visiting WikiLeaks or downloading classified documents from the site, it has not ordered a blanket ban on visiting news organisations reporting on the contents of the classified cables. The army, navy and marines have not sought to block access to any websites.

'The air force's move follows instructions by the government that staff should not access the cables, with the Library of Congress instituting a bar on accessing WikiLeaks's website.'

Hey, I guess this blog has made the Air Force's no-go roster, in that I regularly publish secret cables found on Wikileaks. 

Is Burma clandestinely building a nuclear site, possibly with the aid of North Korea? Taken as a whole, the reports are plausible, writes an envoy in a secret cable. And, the obvious question is: why the need for secrecy, unless Burma is planning to develop a nuclear weapon?

Here is the cable found on Wikileaks:

This record is a partial extract of the
original cable. The full text of the
original cable is not available.

Tuesday, 20 January 2004, 09:44
S E C R E T RANGOON 000088 
EO 12958 DECL: 01/09/2014 
Classified By: COM Carmen Martinez for Reasons 1.5 (B,D)
1. (S/NF) An expatriate businessmanXXXXXXXXXXXX recently
volunteered to an Embassy Officer that he had heard
rumors that a nuclear reactor was being built near Minbu,
in central Magway Division on the Irawaddy River. The
businessman added that he personally had seen a
“massive” barge containing large-sized rebar being
unloaded on a trip to the area. After asking local
residents about the rebar’s purpose, he was told that
similar size barge shipments were arriving almost weekly
and that the rebar was to be used in the construction of
unnamed/unidentified factories. In the opinion of the
businessman, the quantities involved as well as the
diameter of the rebar suggested a project larger than
“factories.” Along these lines, the businessman noted
that there was a new airport near Minbu with a landing
strip that, based on its length and thickness, seemed
excessive, adding that “you could land the space shuttle
on it.”
2. (S/NF) Comment: Rumors of construction of a nuclear
facility in/near Magway Division date back to 2002 and
generally refer to alleged Goverment of Burma (GOB) and
Russian cooperation on a nuclear research reactor
project. Similar rumors, sans the “Russia” angle, have
been circulating with greater frequency within diplomatic
and expatriate circles since a November 2003 Far Eastern
Economic Review (FEER) article which described signs of
growing military ties between North Korea and Burma.
While we have no direct evidence of this alleged
cooperation, rumors of ongoing construction of a nuclear
reactor are surprisingly consistent and observations of
activity such as that described above appear to be
increasing, as are alleged sightings of North Korean
“technicians” inside Burma. Martinez

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