Jun 01 2012
By Senators Marco Rubio, Dan Coats, Richard Burr
June 1, 2012
Espionage is a dangerous business often seen only through a Hollywood lens. Yet the real-world operations, and lives, that inspire such thrillers are highly perishable. They depend on hundreds of hours of painstaking work and the ability to get foreigners to trust our government.
Sitting in a prison cell in Pakistan is one of those foreigners who trusted us. Shakil Afridi served as a key informant to the United States in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. This brave physician put his life on the line to assist U.S. efforts to track down the most-wanted terrorist in the world, yet our government left him vulnerable to the Pakistani tribal justice system, which sentenced him to 33 years for treason. The imprisonment and possible torture of this courageous man — for aiding the United States in one of the most important intelligence operations of our time — coincides with a deeply damaging leak in another case.
The world learned a few weeks ago that U.S. intelligence agencies and partners had disrupted an al-Qaeda plot to blow up a civilian aircraft using an explosive device designed by an affiliate in Yemen. This disclosure revealed sources and methods that could make future successes more difficult to achieve. The public release of information surrounding such operations also risks the lives of informants and makes it more difficult to maintain productive partnerships with other intelligence agencies. These incidents paint a disappointing picture of this administration’s judgment when it comes to national security.
The stakes are high: success or failure in our campaign to defeat plots by al-Qaeda. These leaks are inexcusable, and those responsible should be held accountable. FBI and CIA investigations are a good start, but more must be done to prevent intelligence disclosures of this magnitude.
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