Classified CIA Cable Warns of Danger of Leaks By Scott Ott

A top-secret classified cable from the CIA station chief in Baghdad earlier this month warned of the dangers of stateside officials leaking classified information to the media in an effort to hamper the Bush administration’s foreign policy, according to excerpts of the cable obtained exclusively by The New York Times.

The confidential document was initially sent through a secure channel to CIA headquarters, then disseminated widely among officials at the departments of defense and state and eventually made its way to numerous Congressional leaders who leaked it to the The New York Times, which put it on the front page.

“Information is a powerful weapon of war,” wrote the unnamed undercover CIA agent, “And war is, by definition, messy. Frank evaluations of current conditions from operatives in the field are crucial to commanders who must shape strategy and tactics. Yet no matter how things are going in theater, the enemy must be made to believe that he is losing and the local citizens must believe that freedom will triumph over oppression. That’s why it’s essential that secrecy be maintained with respect to confidential communications like this.”

“The alternative,” he wrote, “is that we become our own worst enemies and scuttle our efforts to liberate the Iraqi people from decades of tyranny. And then American journalists can smugly celebrate the freedom of the press that Iraqi journalists will never know.”

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