Linzer has to be f’ing kidding right? RIGHT?
When the State Department recently asked the CIA for names of Iranians who could be sanctioned for their involvement in a clandestine nuclear weapons program, the agency refused, citing a large workload and a desire to protect its sources and tradecraft.
Frustrated, the State Department assigned a junior Foreign Service officer to find the names another way—by using Google. Those with the most hits under search terms such as “Iran and nuclear,” three officials said, became targets for international rebuke Friday when a sanctions resolution circulated at the United Nations.
In the end, the CIA approved a handful of individuals, though none is believed connected to Project 1-11—Iran’s secret military effort to design a weapons system capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The names of Project 1-11 staff members have never been released by any government and doing so may have raised questions that the CIA was not willing or fully able to answer. But the agency had no qualms about approving names already publicly available on the Internet.
Talk about googlebombing someone.
This actually makes sense: You have what you think is the real list, but you only nail people for whom you can make a public case. But woe unto the poor schmoe who has to push a bunch of google search terms on skeptical foreign diplomats.
This raises so many questions: Is unknown electro-folkie Johnny Burroughs, who records under the name Project 111, now on every no-fly list ever?
Update: I asked about the hyphen in Project 111. D-linz e-mailed me to say:
I decided to add it yesterday because that is how U.S. intelligence officials pronounce the project, with the 1 first and then the 11. Like the way you say nine-eleven for Sept. 11, rather than 9-1-1- for emergency help or one hundred and eleven. IC folks say “project one-eleven”
Later Update: Noah points out that I totally avoided the big revelation, that "none of the 12 Iranians that the State Department eventually singled out for potential bans on international travel and business dealings is believed by the CIA to be directly connected to Iran’s most suspicious nuclear activities.”
I guess that would mean the sanctions are kind of pointless, no?-- Jeffrey Lewis, crossposted at Arms Control Wonk.comEven later update: Noah here. At Defense Tech HQ, we're all big fans of open source intelligence -- information that's out there in the public sphere -- to nail potential bad guys. But only if it actually nails legitimately bad dudes, not just the random Joes who are unlucky enough to show up at the top of a Google search.