The good news is that a plot to blow up an airplane (or two) using underwear bombs which would not have been detected by normal screening processes was foiled. The bad news is that somewhere in the foiling of the plot, a lot of classified information was leaked that will hamper our future efforts to foil such plots.
The U. K. Guardian reported the story yesterday. According to the article:
Detailed leaks of operational information about the foiled underwear bomb plot are causing growing anger in the US intelligence community, with former agents blaming the Obama administration for undermining national security and compromising the British services, MI6 and MI5.
The Guardian has learned from Saudi sources that the agent was not a Saudi national as was widely reported, but a Yemeni. He was born in Saudi Arabia, in the port city of Jeddah, and then studied and worked in the UK, where he acquired a British passport.
Mike Scheur, the former head of the CIA‘s Bin Laden unit, said the leaking about the nuts and bolts of British involvement was despicable and would make a repeat of the operation difficult. “MI6 should be as angry as hell. This is something that the prime minister should raise with the president, if he has the balls. This is really tragic,” Scheur said.
I understand that there are many things in our government that are classified that should not be. I also understand that sometimes there is a very obvious reason to keep certain information secret. How many people were put at risk by the leaking of the details of this operation? Whoever leaked the information should be charged with a crime, and the newspapers that published it should also be penalized in some way. There is too much information available about this operation. That fact will limit our ability to prevent such attacks in the future.