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Old 11 May 2008, 02:22 AM
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Join Date: 18 February 2000
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Cell Phone Film Exposes the Seduction of Secrecy

Former CIA official James Bruce expands on the notorious cell phone incident.

“In 1998, there was press coverage in several newspapers [that] we had an intercept capability of Osama bin Laden’s satellite telephone communications,” Bruce says. “When that press coverage exposed that intelligence collection capability, to no one’s surprise, except perhaps of the press, we lost the ability to monitor those satellite communications of Osama bin Laden.”

It’s enough to make you fire on the newspaper delivery truck with your licensed assault weapon.

One problem: It’s not true, according to reporters who later looked into it.

“The story of the vicious leak that destroyed a valuable intelligence operation was first reported by a best-selling book, validated by the Sept. 11 commission and then repeated by the president,” The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reported after Bush had harped on the theme, tying it to the loss of 3,000 lives at the World Trade Center. “But it appears to be an urban myth.”

“The al Qaeda leader’s communication to aides via satellite phone had already been reported in 1996 — and the source of the information was another government, the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan at the time,” Kessler wrote. “The second time a news organization reported on the satellite phone, the source was bin Laden himself.”
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