Feinstein says she talked to Sanger before Stuxnet story

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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At the beginning of the month the New York Times’ David Sanger reported that Obama had ramped up a cyberwar against the Iranians, approving attacks using a computer worm developed by the US and Israel, called Stuxnet. That story apparently angered the Obama administration. The president himself has called out the leakers.

Stung by criticism that his aides were dishing secrets to The New York Times and other media to bolster his re-election campaign, Obama said he’d investigate.

Well in an interview on CNN last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein also denounced the leaks then said she talked to Sanger before his story came out. The problem, evidently, is that Sanger is so smart:

This is a big problem… What you have are very sophisticated journalists. David Sanger is one of the best.

I spoke with him. He came into my office, he saw me, we worked together at the Aspen Strategy Institute.

He assured me that what he was publishing he had worked out with various agencies and he didn’t think that anything was revealed that wasn’t known already. Well I read the New York Times article and my heart dropped. Because he wove a tapestry that has an impact that is beyond any single one thing, and he’s very good at what he does, and he spent a year figuring it all out.

Note that Sanger himself says that he agonized about releasing some information about the cyberwarfare story. I wonder what Feinstein told him, and how he went too far in her view. Someone surely wanted the Stuxnet story out!

On CNN Wolf Blitzer asked her, Should journalists be prosecuted? “I didn’t say that. What I said is, this is an issue we need to deal with… an enormously smart constituency of journalists who follow this…. It’s going to result in the inability of the United States to have an intelligence profile… that will be able to protect this country.”

Oh, and what is the Aspen Strategy Group?

What We Do

Through its workshops, briefings, and publications, the ASG’s distilled insights help American policymakers learn from experts, while helping the experts understand what questions trouble policymakers. No other group conducts this dialogue in the sustained depth that we achieve in our summer workshops, and with such outstanding participants from both sides of the expert-policymaker divide.


I picked up the Blitzer interview from Marcy Wheeler– emptywheel– who deconstructs David Sanger’s Stuxnet story and speculates on the source, and why Feinstein is mad about this:

I suggested that the Israelis coded StuxNet to escape, without telling the Americans, so as to undermine American attempts to occupy them with cyberwar to prevent hot war. That is, the implication of Sanger’s article (which he now seems to be trying to retract) is that the Israelis deliberately exposed our cyberwar attack so as to make it more likely they could start a war with Iran…

Is DiFi [Dianne Feinstein] so angry at Sanger because he ham-handedly revealed that the Israelis deliberately turned StuxNet into a potential WMD?

I hope they discuss all this at the Aspen Strategy Group, and then publish the conversation…

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