Thomas Joscelyn discusses anonymous source spinning of information obtained by the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, a top al Qaeda operative captured in March 2002, into firm evidence of the lack of ties between the Iraqi Baathist regime and al Qaeda. Hat tip to John Hinderaker at Power-Line.
Scott Johnson at Power-Line also is investigating another even more important leak by the ( in Safire’s happy phrase) “pouting spooks” actively participating in the onging Anti-Bush Administration Intelligence Operation, describing secret CIA transports of terrorist prisoners. Richard Miniter, author of Disinformation: 22 Media Myths that Undermine the War on Terror and Shadow War: The Untold Story of How President Bush is Winning the War on Terror and Power-Line readers discuss whether the information of the flights was simply gleaned from public records with the addition of a little trade-craft by retired CIA officers (now part of the VIPS cabal):
(Richard Miniter says:)
It turns out that the movements of the CIA aircraft (and virtually all private aircraft) are a matter of public record. All you need is a tail number and you can usually obtain its movements for the past year.
Even without the tail number, you can pore through the records looking for suspicious movements (DC to Kabul to Baku and back, say). The CIA could ask (as can private parties as well) that its leased planes not have its logs publicly reported, but, whether through incompetence or design, they have not. Also, Grey told me, the incorporation records of Aero and other leasing outfits are publicly available. Here again the CIA was sloppy. Apparently many of the people named in those documents overlapped with people named in corporation’s documents, i.e., Joe Blow shows up as the chief executive of several different aircraft companies simultaneously and a Google search strongly suggests that Blow has a CIA connection. Add in some visits to bars frequented by charter pilots and airplane mechanics’ shops, and you have a large chunk of the story — all without a single (actively-serving) CIA leak.
Readers Rich Cox and P.S. Malloy are skeptical, and Malloy argues the fact that it may have been possible to reverse engineer the story using public information does not mean that the information leaked necessarily was obtained from public sources. There is no reason to feel certain that all participants in anti-Bush intel operations are currently retired. It is known, for instance, that CIA officers not-then-retired were leaking information intended to help discredit the aministration’s case against Iraq before the 2003 invasion.
Miniter has a later response.