These stories about the latest round of cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear systems read like a Robert Ludlum novel. It seems our friends in Teheran are battling another computer virus these days. This one is said to be even more pervasive than Stuxnet, which started putting doohickies in Iranian computer whatchamacallits some years ago.
Now a horse-choker of a story in the New York Times lays it all out, or a lot of it: The United States and Israel are said to be working together to undermine Iran's nuclear capabilities before the mullahs get themselves a nuke. Which is something just about everybody has known, even if nobody in government was talking for the record.
Off the record is another thing.
The Times' story was detailed. It included sources quoting the president and revealed the code names for some of the cyber tricks being used to disable the best-laid plans of Iran's nuclear technicians. Just how did the Times get this information? Here's its explanation:
"This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day."
How secret can information still be if it appears, in detail, in the New York Times for crying out loud?
But we're not blaming the Times for being the Times. The bigger question is, why are the spooks talking to the papers? Some spies they are, the blabbermouths. Why are they discussing classified information all over Page One?
Gosh, it couldn't have anything to do with this being an election year, could it, and the adminstration's leakers wanting to show how on-the-ball our super-spy of a president is? Surely not. That would be a cynical thought, and everybody knows we newspaper types are never cynical.
May we suggest a better approach for this administration to take when leaking highly classified information to the New York Times: Don't.
Why not just let the cyber-geeks do their job, and pray they do it well? When the Iranians throw up their hands and give up on their Bomb -- deciding that their economy is more important to them than bringing on The End -- then let's read all about it, in detail. But not before.
For now, just one word to everybody involved in this latest service to world peace and international stability:
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