COMMENTARY | After it was announced that a terrorist plot to use an undetectable bomb was foiled, another plot seemed to be afoot. Then followed an announcement that more bombs may be out there already in terrorist hands. Then, news broke that the would be suicide bomber was actually an undercover U.S. operative. While this sounds like a plot to a Hollywood blockbuster, the potential for political intrigue is far more disconcerting.
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King, said he was not briefed at the beginning of the operation. In a televised interview with CNN, he repeatedly tried to avoid divulging the status of the person who had the bomb when the U.S. collected it. Instead, he would only define them as “no longer a threat.” Moments later, CNN reported live on air that they had a source that revealed the would be bomber was actually working with the U.S. in the investigation. It was later confirmed he was a Saudi agent cooperating with the U.S. operation.
Timing of leaks
This is a large amount of information, especially when forensics has not even been completed on the device. The source of the leak has not been confirmed, but the Obama administration may have some explaining to do.
While the designer of the bomb, Ibrahim al-Asiri, is known, his exact whereabouts are not. Also an unknown, and already a security concern, is how many more devices there are and who has them. These leaks have not only shown the world the CIA’s hand, but half the deck as well.
Even those who side with the White House will have to call into question the premature release of facts in this case. If this was an ongoing investigation, then this may compromise the identities and relationships of the agents involved. We will probably never know how many leads and how much information these leaks may turn into to dead ends.
Last week, President Obama was criticized for what some perceived as a victory lap visit to Afghanistan on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. The criticism of the administration politicizing overseas operations is nothing new and has been around since Obama went on national television to announce the death of bin-Laden. But these latest developments seem to have crossed party lines.
The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Charles Ruppersberger III, weighed in with, “When you have a leak it could cost American lives, your allies’ lives.”
One can only hope, the Obama administration was not so in a rush to celebrate that they willingly compromised the safety of the American people to do so.