Why, they published it, of course. What else did you expect?
WASHINGTON — He is known as the Dark Prince or Ayatollah Mike, nicknames he earned as the Central Intelligence Agency officer who oversaw the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the American drone strike campaign that killed thousands of Islamist militants and hundreds of civilians.
Now the official, ——- ——-, has a new job. He is running the C.I.A.’s Iran operations, according to current and former intelligence officials, an appointment that is the first major sign that the Trump administration is invoking the hard line the president took against Iran during his campaign.
Yes, I blanked out his name. Yes, you can see it in the Times article. And yes, I know the Times had publicized his name in the past.
You know what? I. Don’t. Care.
Look, I was never in Operations, and I was never anything more than some technical guy, but I was still overseas under Non-Official Cover (NOC) for some time and we still took great pains to avoid making it easy to connect me to the U.S. government.
You know why? Because every so often, people in NOC jobs just … disappear. Intelligence and espionage aren’t, as they say, beanbag.
A few days ago, I wrote about Getting Serious About Terrorism. One of the incidents I mentioned was when the New York Times “blew” the program using the SWIFT banking network to track al Qaeda’s banking transactions. That didn’t help U.S. interests.
Of course, there was also the Valerie Plame thing, when Richard Armitage accidentally revealed that Plame was CIA. Of course, that was a big deal, but then it was a Republican in the White House. But Robert Novak published her name. I can’t imagine how that was supposed to have helped U.S. interests.
So, here’s this poor guy. Even if he were known to be CIA already, what this does is exposes the fact that it’s his job now to interfere with the Iranians’ plans. Yes, it’s entirely possible that the Iranians already knew that, but it’s damn well certain they know it now.
That means the Times may as well have just painted a target on this guy’s back with a label in Farsi that says, “I’m important.”
Is it really a problem? I don’t know. You don’t know. The New York Times doesn’t know. But it could be. And I’m pretty damn sure it doesn’t serve U.S. interests.
We also know something else, pointed out here by Omri Ceren on Twitter:
“Iran and its proxies kidnap CIA officials who target them, and torture them to death.”
They’ve done it before — like Bill Buckley, station chief in Lebanon.
Now, the Times has decided it’s important to let the Iranians know that this guy is a prime target.
Seriously, let’s assume for the moment that the Times is convinced that the “people’s right to know” is more important. Let’s assume the don’t have malicious intent here.
But if they were consciously trying to impede U.S. efforts and expose the intelligence programs, what would they do any different?