Stuxnet Leaks Came From Administration Itself

from the I-am-Jack's-utter-lack-of-surprise dept

It was pointed out towards the end of June that the Justice Department was investigating the "leaks" that led to David E. Sanger's book on the Stuxnet virus, along with a widely-read New York Times article that preceded it. At that time, indications were given that the target of the investigations was the former second-highest ranking member of the military, General James Cartwright.

Mike pointed out then that it would be interesting to see how Cartwright was treated for his leaks as compared to Bradley Manning. It looks like there will be plenty of "interesting" comparisons to be made in the near future, as a Washington Times article by Rowan Scarborough has discovered (with the help of documents acquired by Freedom Watch) that the trail of Stuxnet leaks leads directly back to the White House itself.

The Obama administration provided a New York Times reporter exclusive access to a range of high-level national security officials for a book that divulged highly classified information on a U.S. cyberwar on Iran’s nuclear program, internal State Department emails show.

The information in the 2012 book by chief Washington correspondent David E. Sanger has been the subject of a yearlong Justice Department criminal investigation: The FBI is hunting for those who leaked details to Mr. Sanger about a U.S.-Israeli covert cyberoperation to infect Iran’s nuclear facilities with a debilitating computer worm known as Stuxnet.
The theory that the administration is very amenable to leaks that make the administration look good is again confirmed here.
The scores of State Department emails from the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2012 do not reveal which officials told Mr. Sanger, but they do show an atmosphere of cooperation within the administration for a book generally favorable toward, but not uncritical of, President Obama.
While many writers have been granted insider access to the White House over the years, rarely does their level of access trigger an investigation, as Sanger's did. General Cartwright was "targeted," but conveniently avoided any further action (at least to this point) from the Justice Department by retiring. Thomas Donlion, then National Security Advisor, was called out as being the "hero" and "commenter of record" in Thomas Ricks' review of Sanger's book. Good call by Ricks. Donlion resigned in June and left his post in July.

The Times article also details accusations made by Republican critics that the administration had broken laws by divulging classified information to Sanger. More damning were the accusations that these leaks were done solely to pump up Obama's reputation during the 2012 election run.

The evidence released so far paints a pretty damning portrait of an administration prone to convenient transparency. Whistleblowing and leaks are fine as long as the administration approves of the message. What will be telling is how these leakers are punished for coughing up classified information directly related to national security.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    limbodog (profile), Aug 20th, 2013 @ 11:46am

    Or, perhaps more directly...

    "The theory that the administration is very amenable to leaks that make the administration look good is again confirmed here."

    ie: "The law is not applied evenly."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2013 @ 11:51am

    Will Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook now come out and denounce the surveillance?

    They need to rescue their position, and their complicity in this will damage their business. They need to realize this isn't going away and they'd better choose the constitutional side because the lying toerags are not winning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 20th, 2013 @ 11:55am

    It would be much less damning if we didn't know how they treat those who whistleblow either via official or unofficial means since it was used against theoretically hostile Governments.

    Which prompts the cynical question: how hostile are they in reality?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Also Symantec testified before Congress that STUXNET was a wakeup call (before we knew its origin). That resulted in NSA getting big funding to defend against this new threat. Did NSA tell congress STUXNET was theirs, or did they let Congress be misled? i.e. alie by omission.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    BentFranklin (profile), Aug 20th, 2013 @ 12:19pm

    Aiding the enemy

    I expect to see these charges leveled against whoever did the leaks and everyone in the room when they were discussed and approved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2013 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Or, perhaps more directly...

    Which means that the law needs decapitating, as do those who suffer from the scourge of hypocrisy in the various cases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Jerrymiah (profile), Aug 20th, 2013 @ 12:47pm

    Stuxnet Leak

    This shows that the Obama Administration has absolutely no regards for National Security and will use the term National Security to prosecute anybody that attempts to safeguard the constitution. On this point Obama should be the subject of IMPEACHMENT and most members of his administration including the DOJ investigated and charged with leaking top secret information. Most members of his cabinet should be subject to recall. Keith Alexander, Michael Hayden and James clapper should be charged with 'Attempting to foment a Coup d'Etat. The military Establishment has to be put back in its proper place and the running of the government must be returned to civilian authorities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

    Traitors! Traitors! ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2013 @ 1:30pm

    obviously nothing will be done against anyone. i wonder how Manning would have got on if he had retired?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2013 @ 2:19pm


    Google better choose quickly because Germany, France and Spain are all considering blocking google's storage of ANY data on EU citizens, which would seriously crimp their business in Europe.

    and I doubt Sergey Brin wants to be kicked in the googleads

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2013 @ 2:22pm


    Well sometimes they don't just punish people.

    If you directly contradict their orders and oh, I don't know, release information on how Tony Blair had info on Iraq completely pulled out of his ass, then they cut your wrists, let you bleed to death and then dump your corpse in a field (all on Blair's direct order of course).

    One day David Kelly will get a REAL inquest that wasn't controlled behind the scenes by whitehall trying desperately to cover up a vicious, evil crime against ANOTHER whistleblower.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Mudlock, Aug 20th, 2013 @ 3:26pm

    Bad analogy time:

    Trespassing is illegal. But when I let you on my property, it's not trespassing.

    Leaking state secrets is illegal. But when the White House gives you security access, it's not leaking.

    The problem I see here is that the White House wanted Stuxnet to look like--and be treated in the media like--a leak, when it wasn't actually a leak. But it's not a leak, so no, it won't actually be prosecuted as a leak. (Duh.) It is however certainly deplorable and speaks to some hypocrisy from the White House with respect to how they treat actual leakers, and certainly reflects poorly on the media for playing along, and more so, for they were playing along AGAINST US.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    toyotabedzrock (profile), Aug 20th, 2013 @ 6:26pm


    They are allowed to leak, it is not illegal. And giving them access to a general doesn't mean they wanted him to tell the paper that.

    Further tech blogs had been talking about stuxnet for a year before and it had been dissected by antivirus companies already. And Iran had already removed it from their systems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 7:28am

    Cyber Pearl Harbour

    I'm a little confused by the "make the administration look good" part.

    What part of the stuxnet attack on a sovereign nation made the US-Israel look good?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Pragmatic, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 7:38am

    Re: Stuxnet Leak

    House Speaker John Boehner issued a slightly less inflammatory statement arguing that the President must not back down on keeping the program intact, despite the fact that (again) there is no evidence that it has been necessary in stopping a single terrorist attack.

    "Transparency is important, but we expect the White House to insist that no reform will compromise the operational integrity of the program. That must be the presidentís red line, and he must enforce it. Our priority should continue to be saving American lives, not saving face." sa-spying-all-americans-shows-president-obama-is-monumental-failure.shtml

    Short version: if you try to pull Obama down you'll take most of the Republican Congresscritters with him. Is that what you want?

    Not that I'd object.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anzablazer, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 7:58am

    Technology as become the enslaver of Humanity. Soon everyone will be pigeon holed in there place in society. Say Hello to the New World Order because know seem to want to stop what the Government is doing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 11:08pm

    Re: Cyber Pearl Harbour

    I'd say that making a move to take away a major weapon of a main enemy would be good thing, at least in the eyes of a lot of people. But nobody in this collection of morons understands the law of unintended consequences. Bet they'll be surprised when Stuxnet mutates and comes back to bite them in the ass.

    You could argue several sides about doing this to Iran; but then BRAGGING about it, just screams criminal stupidity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 12:02am

    Re: Re: Cyber Pearl Harbour

    Let's note that it's a hypothetical weapon of an enemy of certain interests, much like Iraq's WMD..

    I feel a hint of hypocrisy when the US officials talk about Chinese hackers attacking the US infrastructure, when the only documented attack was done by the US..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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