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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Friday, June 21, 2002
8:39 AM

Mike Allen and Juliet Eilperin report that VP Dick Cheney is blaming Congress for leaking classified information on coded messages, and the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating.

CNN, which broke the story, cited "two congressional sources" for the information. The Washington Post and other news organizations cited U.S. intelligence officials in quoting the Arabic messages' translation: "The match is about to begin" and "Tomorrow is zero hour."....Experts in electronic surveillance said the information about the NSA's Sept. 10 intercepts contained nothing harmful to national security. They said the leak did not reveal, for example, the source of the information or the methods used to gather it."

Well, that's a little self-serving on behalf of the Post, as well as on behalf of the intelligence committees, though I'm in no position to prove otherwise. But I am deeply skeptical. Osama bin Laden stopped using satellite phones when his messages became public. This from an old MSNBC page: a few months back:

His biggest problem remains communications, which the United States has successfully compromised. Another official said, “He’s stopped using satellite phones, although we’ve caught many of his couriers, it only takes 50 bucks to buy someone in Afghanistan.” Bin Laden previously used Inmarsat phones until he discovered that the United States was intercepting his communications off the Inmarsat-3 satellite over the Indian Ocean.

False hope department--the page also has this: "In recent months, U.S. intelligence has gotten a better grasp on how he operates and where. 'We are getting better at finding him. There are days and days where we don’t know where he is,' said one U.S. official."

Here's a past story on bin Laden's phone, right down to his old, inoperable phone number.

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