Who lit the Flame? 145

The White House has been “leaking” state secrets to make Obama look good.

To augment its boast, it has “leaked” that the US  is responsible for the tremendously clever malware, Stuxnet and Flame, that have hampered and stumped and spied on Iran. (In collaboration with Israel, the White House mumbles, hoping you didn’t catch what it was saying just then.)

This is from the Washington Post:

The United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed Flame that collected intelligence in preparation for cyber-sabotage aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort. …

But though the White House boasters want you to know how cunningly the US under Obama has been crippling Iran’s efforts to make a nuclear bomb, it doesn’t want you to think that they themselves are guilty of the leak.

Last week, researchers with Kaspersky Lab, the Russian security firm, reported their conclusion that Flame — a name they came up with — was created by the same group or groups that built Stuxnet. Kaspersky declined to comment on whether it was approached [employed] by Iran. “We are now 100 percent sure that the Stuxnet and Flame groups worked together,” said … a senior researcher with Kaspersky Lab.

So we are to understand that the Kaspersky Lab leaked the info to “Western officials”, who leaked it to the Obama-supporting Washington Post – who blames Israel for the info having come out at all:

Despite their collaboration on developing the malicious code, the United States and Israel have not always coordinated their attacks. Israel’s April assaults on Iran’s Oil Ministry and oil-export facilities caused only minor disruptions. The episode led Iran to investigate and ultimately discover Flame. Some U.S. intelligence officials were dismayed that Israel’s unilateral incursion led to the discovery of the virus, prompting counter¬measures.

Rich with innuendo, that passage. It implies:

  • Don’t think for a moment that just because the US and Israel worked together on the malware, the US supports Israel’s position on Iran.
  • The malware they produced together, though stunningly brilliant, is not really very nice. (“The malicious code.”)
  • Those assaults on Iran’s oil industry in April – carried out by Israel, you know? Oh, you didn’t know? …
  • Well, actually, they weren’t anything much. As Israel did it alone, it wasn’t too successful, causing only “minor disruptions”.
  • What’s more, it’s a pity they were carried out at all, since it was because of them that Iran discovered Flame.
  • In fact, they were worse than ineffective; they were positively a bad idea. “Some US intelligence officials” were “dismayed” (annoyed) because Israel’s action provoked Iran (which otherwise has only peaceful intentions towards the US?) into taking counter-measures (not specified).

But wait a mo …!

Flame was developed at least five years ago as part of a classified effort code-named Olympic Games, according to officials familiar with U.S. cyber-operations and experts who have scrutinized its code.

It  was started “at least five years ago”? When G.W. Bush was president?

Well, yes (the White house might answer), but the decision to use it had to be made – or at least upheld – by “gutsy” President Obama. Not that they’re saying he is in any way responsible for it if you think it’s a bad thing. If it’s a bad thing, blame Bush, and Israel. If you think it’s marvelous, credit Obama.

Victor Davis Hanson calls this leaking of state secrets by the White House, “Securitygate”. He thinks it is more serious than Watergate or the Iran-Contra scandal.

He writes at PJ Media:

In the Watergate scandal, no one died, at least that we know of. Richard Nixon tried systematically to subvert institutions. Yet most of his unconstitutional efforts were domestic in nature — and an adversarial press soon went to war against his abuses and won, as Congress held impeachment hearings. …

Iran-Contra was as serious because there was a veritable war inside the Reagan administration over helping insurgents with covert cash that had in part been obtained by, despite denials, selling arms to enemy Iran to free hostages — all against U.S. laws …  [But] the media soon covered the story in detail, and their disclosures led to several resignations and full congressional hearings.

What I call “Securitygate” — the release of the most intricate details about the cyber war against Iran, the revelations about a Yemeni double-agent, disclosures about covert operations in and against Pakistan, intimate details about the Osama bin Laden raid and the trove of information taken from his compound, and the Predator drone assassination list and the president’s methodology in selecting targets — is far more serious than either prior scandal. …

Here is the crux of the scandal: Obama is formulating a new policy of avoiding overt unpopular engagements, while waging an unprecedented covert war across the world. He’s afraid that the American people do not fully appreciate these once-secret efforts and might in 2012 look only at his mishaps in Afghanistan or his public confusion over Islamic terror. Ergo, feed information to [selected journalists/book writers] so that they can skillfully inform us, albeit with a bit of dramatic “shock” and “surprise,” just how tough, brutal, and deadly Barack Obama really is.

Yet these disclosures will endanger our national security, especially in the case of a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. They will probably get people killed or tortured, and they will weaken America’s ability for years to work covertly with allies. Our state-to-state relations will be altered, and perhaps even the techniques and technology of our cyber and special operations wars dispersed into the wrong hands. …

We all know how the deplorable practice of “leaking” works. But in truth, these were not quite leaks: information was not “leaked” by rogue insiders or hostile outsiders, but rather given freely to the press by administration officials.

That fact alone makes Securitygate different from any other past scandal over publicized classified documents or insider accounts of covert operations.


Following on from this post, see the video immediately above: the singing of an Israeli satirical song, Tell on me.