Al-Qaeda Already Using Wikileaks Material Against Us

Making points that will undoubtedly be echoed in radical mosques and Islamic centers around the world, al-Awlaki attempts to discredit the American government by charging:

…the war against the publication of truth [goes on], and, what is more, the U.S. is fighting to shut down websites like WikiLeaks, just because it reported facts about the American war in Iraq and about the conversations of American diplomats with their agents worldwide....[The U.S.] has leveled a similar accusation at the owner of WikiLeaks, in order to keep [his site]sy and neutralize its work in disseminating the domestic secrets of the musty American [White] House.

These overt statements clearly reveal how al-Qaeda will use Wikileaks data in its propaganda war against us, but they do not reveal what counterintelligence information al-Qaeda will be able to glean from these documents, such as intelligence regarding the technical operations we use to penetrate it, or intelligence regarding the vulnerability of specific targets around the world.

Because this type of information will be used to facilitate its clandestine operations, al-Qaeda will not publicly reveal it.

Only a carefully conducted damage assessment of the leaked material, done by our counterterrorism and counterintelligence analysts, can alert us to what al-Qaeda can learn from these documents. Armed with this knowledge, we can then make the necessary changes to our tradecraft, or bolster the weaknesses of key targets exposed by the material.

Of course, such an assessment cannot and will not be accomplished as long as the government declares this material off limits to the very officials who need it most.

On February 3, 2011, the Senate Homeland Security Committee released its findings on the Ft. Hood massacre perpetrated by Major Nidal Hasan. One of its key findings was that the FBI did not employ its intelligence analysts in the case.  The committee’s belief was that if the analysts had been included, the massacre might well have been prevented.

In this instance, we are not only intentionally cutting our analysts out of the loop, but depriving them on pain of punishment of key information that is already assisting the enemy.