Media & Spooks

“The deaths of the two Western hostages succeeded in doing what the killing of thousands of innocent Pakistanis, Afghanis, and Yemenis in U.S. drone strikes had failed to accomplish. It prompted Mark Mazzetti of The New York Times to act. Frustrated with the lack of congressional oversight over the drone program, Mazzetti defied the CIA and published the name of the man, who as head of the agency’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC), was a key “architect of the targeted killing program.” His name is Michael D’Andrea.”

A few months ago, a young girl — let us call her  ‘Marie-Astrid’ — asked me how I could have scooped several interesting intelligence stories (Spooks editing Wikipedia, Crypto AG, the faked Libyan nukes program and a few bits about the Lockerbie tragedy…) that professional journalists had missed. How could an amateur beat an army of professionals? The answer is simple.

I explained to her why it was so. Professionals have better access to intelligence BUT they simply cannot tell or they will lose their source of information and thus their job. Amateurs — that is people who do whatever they do because they LOVE (Latin: Amare) what they do — are not under this kind of constraint. At least, not in the past. Maybe, not yet…

And that is exactly the story of today following the amazing piece of Mazzetti (and Younes).

Here is the same explanation from Newsweek:

“Knowing what is going on in secret is, of course, the primary directive of all national security reporters. But trying to gain access to such secrets puts the scoop-hungry Washington press corps in a position of perpetual subordination and supplication in relation to government intelligence agencies. Reporters offend their official sources at their peril, for they may be cut off from the morsels of leaked intelligence that are these beat journalists’ specialty.”

“Which is why the CIA no longer needs to recruit reporters and put them on its payroll. Instead, the agency simply relies on finely tuned relationships with a select group of elite reporters who are utterly dependent on the national security state for their professional survival.”


Outing the CIA’s ‘Undertaker’: ‘In decades past, the CIA had reporters on its payroll. Now the press can inadvertently do its bidding.’


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2 Responses to Media & Spooks

  1. Paul Feeney says:

    Very clear and very important to the current debate about PT35b, the Miliband PII cerificte etc etc. and of course vital if we are to understand David Leppard’s 100%, 180 degree volte face about Libya. One tiny point: how old is the “young girl”? These days, if she is older than 12-13 it is politically more correct to refer to her as a “young woman”! In English if you call a female who is older than 12-13 a young girl then you will be accused of sexism…..

    Best wishes, Paul


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