Taking two staff members from the Investigative Project, Katz set up her own office. She got by on small government contracts. Some of that work, done for the Treasury Department, involved identifying Islamic groups that might be sending money to terrorist organizations. She also had a contract with the Swiss government and with a group of relatives of 9/11 victims who were suing Saudi Arabian officials, businesses, and charities. [my emphasis]
In other words, there is a small chance--admittedly remote--that this is the second leak of information provided by Katz' firm to the government. After all, the best-known prosecution of Islamic charities is that of Holy Lands Foundation. The Foundation was tipped off to the impending raid on their office by a leak through the NYT (though the leak to the NYT was more than just the suspicion they provided support to terrorist groups--it included news of the impending raid). I don't know what to make of that (admittedly outside) possibility, but it deserves note.
And then there's this.
One afternoon early last fall, Katz came across a new thread. It was about her. A jihadi had posted a link to the SITE Institute’s Web site. “The SITE is lurking,” he wrote. Its people were on the boards, using false names and acting as spies. He urged his brothers to ferret them out and expel them.
But another poster responded that SITE might be providing a valuable service. He wrote, “They translate the statements into English on our behalf, and they do not analyze them. Why do we not grab the opportunity?” Eventually, a moderator on the site weighed in: “All right, men, do not argue. We will carry out an election, and then we will see if we should keep them or expel them—what do you think? I am a democratic operative, don’t you think?” He ended with a smiley-face emoticon. By the time attention shifted to a new thread, opinion was running fifty-fifty as to whether SITE was, on balance, good for jihad.
In other words, back in fall 2005, someone went onto a jihadi site and exposed SITE's presence. While that exposure could have come from any number of sources (SITE's clients include members of the media and corporations, as well as the government), whoever exposed SITE had current and detailed information on SITE's work. (I also love how we never learn whether the jihadis identified SITE's lurkers or not.) So regardless of whether SITE's info from Treasury got leaked, their work has been compromised at least once before.
Now couple those two details with this detail, offered by a SITE competitor in the WaPo article.
One competitor, Ben Venzke, founder of IntelCenter, said he questions SITE's decision -- as described by Katz -- to offer the video to White House policymakers rather than quietly share it with intelligence analysts.
"It is not just about getting the video first," Venzke said. "It is about having the proper methods and procedures in place to make sure that the appropriate intelligence gets to where it needs to go in the intelligence community and elsewhere in order to support ongoing counterterrorism operations."
Ben Venzke doesn't say it, but he strongly suggests that Katz's firm sacrifices the integrity of its data in favor of props from politicians.
Frankly, I don't know what to make of these details. BushCo denies they leaked the information--though in the same article they call for an investigation, suggesting they don't know who leaked it.
So, sorry to hear that SITE has lost its edge. And it really sucks that it was someone at The White House who leaked the video.
But why would you give the video to the White House and not to the FBI or CIA? The White House leaks like a sieve. That's just the way the White House works.
Update 2: More reason to suspect Katz' story:
1. From ABC at 9:23 a.m., we know government intelligence sources had a transcript of the video before SITE talked to the White House, and these government intelligence sources leaked news about the video and transcript to ABC *before* SITE talked to the White House.
We already know there was one leak from the intelligence community to ABC at 9:23 am - just before SITE and the White House met. And we know that at that time they already had the video and a transcript and had had time to analyze them.
Possibility 2: There are two transcripts: one of our intel agencies independently intercepted the video, transcribed and analyzed it, then leaked to ABC at 9:23 am.
Then, just by coincidence, a second leaker from the White House (acting independently and incredibly quickly, don't you think, to alert the Pentagon in time to begin downloading by 10:12 am?) leaked news of the SITE video and transcript to various news agencies.