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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post


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PostWatch
 

Thursday, June 20, 2002
 
12:56 PM

THE RAVEN FLIES AT MIDNIGHT...It's like something out of a spy thriller, but I think today's story on coded messages that could have warned of Sept. 11 is the kind of thing Dennis Pluchinsky had in mind when he asked everybody to please shut up about intelligence and other security details. His Sunday Op-Ed was mainly aimed at the press, which is fine, but you gotta wonder about the "senior U.S. intelligence officials" who told the Post:

The Arabic-language messages said, "The match is about to begin" and "Tomorrow is zero hour." They were discussed Tuesday before the House-Senate intelligence committee during closed-door questioning of Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the NSA, the agency responsible for intercepting and analyzing electronic messages.


Publishing this information has no value to the public. It's already well-known and extensively reported that intelligence agencies have to sift through bales of data every day, and that it may have been possible to prevent Sept. 11 if only we could find the needle in the haystack. We know.

What terrorists may not know is which parts of their communications have been intercepted. Except now they do.

The Post and other media are chasing CNN on this story, and in cases like these editors and reporters say the cat's already out of the bag. But maybe we could stop giving murderers the weapons to kill us if a few major news outlets became true leaders, ignored the story and sent video clips of the Twin Towers to their colleagues.





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