Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sources and Methods...

Here we go again...

An article in todays LA Times said that evidence "...cited growing evidence Saturday that a Pakistani army major had been in cellphone contact with a man who allegedly attempted to bomb Times Square in New York, including the possibility that they spoke shortly before the failed bombing."

Like my last post about revealing sources and methods, this is a bad thing. When you let the bad guys know how you get information about their activities, they are likely to try to cut off those sources of information.

I think the ongoing disclosure of intelligence sources and methods in the Times square bombing case illustrates one of the difficulties and the difference between treating terrorism as warfare and treating it as criminal actitivity. Warfare is ongoing, therefore you protect your intelligence sources until the fight is over. Criminal activity is made up of "cases." Revealing the source may strengthen a case by lending credibility to the evidence. The investigators and prosecutors are not as concerned about protecting sources as they are about "solving a crime" or winning a case.

The problem from a military perspective is that once a source is lost, because the target avoids it or makes it more secure, it takes time to develop and test new sources. If the target gets their operations going again before you can do that, they have the advantage.

Bottom line, is that that treating terrorism as crime rather than warfare makes everything more dangerous. Our government has made this policy calculation and decided to accept that risk.

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