Time for a new leak: U.S. and Israel developed “Flame” computer virus, say “western officials”

posted at 6:41 pm on June 19, 2012 by Allahpundit

Unlike the last few mega-leaks, this one’s not aimed at glorifying Obama’s James Bond-ian counterterrorist kung fu. In fact, Obama’s name doesn’t appear in the piece; it’s Bush who’s given credit for developing the Flame/Stuxnet program to sabotage Iranian nukes.

Ace blames the leakers for revealing all the nifty things that Flame can do but I think we already knew all the details in WaPo’s piece from that Russian cybersecurity firm that went public about the virus a few weeks ago. The point here isn’t to spill the beans about Flame’s capabilities, it’s — as Ace says — to blame Israel for the virus’s discovery.

And it’s not the first time that that’s happened.

The United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed Flame that collected critical intelligence in preparation for cyber-sabotage attacks aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort…

Flame came to light last month after Iran detected a series of cyberattacks on its oil industry. The disruption was directed by Israel in a unilateral operation that apparently caught its U.S. partners off guard, according to several U.S. and Western officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity…

Despite their collaboration on developing the malicious code, the United States and Israel have not always coordinated attacks. Israel’s April assaults on Iran’s Oil Ministry and oil export facilities caused only minor disruptions. The episode led Iran to investigate and ultimately discover Flame…

Some U.S. intelligence officials were dismayed that Israel’s unilateral incursion led to the discovery of the virus, prompting countermeasures.

If that sounds familiar, that’s because Israel also took the blame for the damaging code error in Stuxnet in the NYT’s June 1 story on how President Awesome ordered the cybersabotage program to be accelerated:

An error in the code, they said, had led it to spread to an engineer’s computer when it was hooked up to the centrifuges. When the engineer left Natanz and connected the computer to the Internet, the American- and Israeli-made bug failed to recognize that its environment had changed. It began replicating itself all around the world. Suddenly, the code was exposed, though its intent would not be clear, at least to ordinary computer users.

“We think there was a modification done by the Israelis,” one of the briefers told the president, “and we don’t know if we were part of that activity.”

Mr. Obama, according to officials in the room, asked a series of questions, fearful that the code could do damage outside the plant. The answers came back in hedged terms. Mr. Biden fumed. “It’s got to be the Israelis,” he said. “They went too far.”

Bona fide Israeli errors, ass-covering by U.S. politicians for major mistakes, or both? Before you answer that, consider the other big news buried in today’s WaPo piece: According to one “former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official,” Flame and Stuxnet were designed to prepare the battlefield for “another type of covert action.” Actual quote: “Cyber collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.” WaPo goes so far as to confirm that new, even more advanced cyberweapons have been developed. Which prompts the question: If the point of all the leaking lately is to run a psy op on Iran designed to drive them to total paranoia about the security of their networks (assuming they haven’t reached that point already), why all the fingerpointing at Israel? The psychological effect would be more pronounced, I’d think, if Iran thought the U.S. and Israel were acting perfectly in concert. Conversely, if the U.S. is trying to set up a good cop/bad cop dynamic for negotiating purposes with Iran in which Israel is the “rogue actor” and the U.S. more restrained, why admit to participating in the cybersabotage program in the first place? Why not say that the program’s wholly owned and operated by Israel? The west is in the middle of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program; the more you admit to penetrating their computers and destroying their equipment, the more face the regime will lose with Iranians if it ends up making a deal. (Granted, the odds of a deal are vanishingly small, but why make them smaller?)

Long story short, we’re running a totally awesome cyberpenetration campaign with another country, but we don’t quite trust that other country’s part in the cyberpenetration campaign and, for some reason, we really want our enemies to know that. Huh. Exit question: What does all this cyberespionage mean for a possible Israeli bombing run at Iran’s nuclear facilities? Does it mean an attack is more likely, since by now Israel surely knows much more about potential targets and air defenses than Iran thinks it knows? Or does it mean an attack is less likely because the cyberweapons now in use are sufficiently sophisticated that the U.S. and Israel can now somehow shut down the program remotely, as they originally tried to do with Stuxnet?


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Exit question: What does all this cyberespionage mean for a possible Israeli bombing run at Iran’s nuclear facilities?

all answers must be within the context of the fact that Russia, Syria, China and Iran are now conducting major exercises IVO Syria.

**my 2c answer**…..soon baby–drop ‘em like their hot.

ted c on June 19, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Which means US money and Israeli know how.

And US access to end product.

Ben Hur on June 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM

answer to exit question: ATTACK!!! Why take a chance?

SMACKRUNNER on June 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM

dear leader putting alot of space between him and israel…

KJ’s take is perfect for today…

cmsinaz on June 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM

So much for those 100 pro-forma FBI interviews.

Better round up the usual suspects again.

Leaker? We don’t need your steeenking leaker.

pedestrian on June 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM

more likely of an attack methinks

cmsinaz on June 19, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Cold War.

thatsafactjack on June 19, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Cold War.

Election

thatsafactjack on June 19, 2012 at 6:47 PM

pedestrian on June 19, 2012 at 6:48 PM

The point here isn’t to spill the beans about Flame’s capabilities, it’s — as Ace says — to blame Israel for the virus’s discovery.

Yep. Move the hands on the doomsday clock a minute closer to midnight. All the signs are pointing towards that Israel should, and must, act within her own best interests because she is being left out to hang–even more so than usual.

ted c on June 19, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Tell On Me – The Ballad Of US Agents

An Israeli skit. A little long but still funny. h/t treehouse.

Blake on June 19, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Long story short, we’re running a totally awesome cyberpenetration campaign

Everyone (China especially) is running super awesome pen-tests against the US. They are mentioned to the public in the vaguest of vague terms.

Why is this stuff coming out?

The idea that it is some kind of super awesome psy-op, ‘psych!’, quadruple bluff would only make sense if you were involved in such super awesome schemes as Fast and Furious. Which was a massive success.

CorporatePiggy on June 19, 2012 at 6:49 PM

The Syrian Death Star is getting some help from its Imperial allies from the north and the east.

ted c on June 19, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Obama threw Israel under the bus again. Same leak soruces, different motive.

AUINSC on June 19, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Frankly I do not give a flit what administraion did this, someone is out giving stuff our nation is doing with other nations. Someone is out leaking, leaking big time?

And if bho wants any nation to help him, give him a heads up on what they are up to, well bho YOU ARE SOL, IMO! NO one in the world, much less a vast number of America’s trusts this worthless, self centered see to it bho looks good, potus?
L

letget on June 19, 2012 at 6:50 PM

according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort…

Western officials? What, you mean like, the King of Gondor?

Did the WaPo pick that anonymous identifier or did the squealer, I wonder?

HitNRun on June 19, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Meanwhile the secret service is busy doing lines on Martha’s Vineyard.

pedestrian on June 19, 2012 at 6:51 PM

So I know who’s ass to kick.

Barry “Kickass” Obama

jukin3 on June 19, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Election

Sorry to say, you are correct. bho needs every distration he can find to get re-elected.
L

letget on June 19, 2012 at 6:52 PM

So much for those 100 pro-forma FBI interviews.

Better round up the usual suspects again.

Leaker? We don’t need your steeenking leaker.

pedestrian on June 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Leon Panetta, Leaker?

davidk on June 19, 2012 at 6:54 PM

Why can’t we out-technical Iran? These programs don’t seem to be giving us a leg up in negotiations. Nor have they taken a military action by Israel off the table. So outside of a bunch of annoying popups -or something- we don’t seem to be having much of an effect.

BKeyser on June 19, 2012 at 6:54 PM

This one’s probably Panetta. Most of the earlier ones were likely Donilon.

crosspatch on June 19, 2012 at 6:54 PM

To quote the Terminator. “F**k you, a**h9ole…

ladyingray on June 19, 2012 at 7:01 PM

And just as the Muslim Brotherhood assumes the presidency in Egypt. What fortuitous timing!

RedRedRice on June 19, 2012 at 7:03 PM

How much of it did President Rambo personally design?

farsighted on June 19, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Isn’t this a case of making Iranian negotiators, through whatever means, incredibly difficult for the Russians and Chinese?

If we know Putin is tits-deep and lying to us about Russian involvement in Iran, he’s going to believe we’ve also entered their infrastructure.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence Pooty has gotten more aggressive during this period.

budfox on June 19, 2012 at 7:04 PM

“… for some reason, we really want our enemies to know that.”

O_O

Seven Percent Solution on June 19, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Western officials? What, you mean like, the King of Gondor?

Snicker.

WitchDoctor on June 19, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Remote shut off is unlikely at this point. By this time Chinese experts will have instructed the Iranians to isolate their critical networks, which is why these leaks are such a big deal. Forewarned is forearmed.

Isolated networks, those disconnected from the web provide no means for infected machines to “phone home” or receive instructions. Of course, were I building these things they would have a built in “fail” date and a few other surprises.

pedestrian on June 19, 2012 at 6:48 PM

If Obama starts another war voluntarily or if he is pressed into it by events, he will never be re-elected. The moonbats are furious he’s still in Afghanistan and Iraq. We on the right are angry over the “kinetic action” he unilaterally took in Libya.

Cyber warfare and drone strikes are not too swift either at this point. Don’t misunderstand, my concern about this is escalating likelihood of retaliation. Our borders are porous and our enemies would like nothing better than to turn a US city into a lake of glass.

dogsoldier on June 19, 2012 at 7:12 PM

The Hopey/Changey Clowns are gonna start WW3 at
the rate there leaking,er,going!!

canopfor on June 19, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Will some one please tell oblunder and his crew to STFU!!!!

ColdWarrior57 on June 19, 2012 at 7:14 PM

In fact, Obama’s name doesn’t appear in the piece; it’s Bush who’s given credit for developing the Flame/Stuxnet program to sabotage Iranian nukes.

See?! The leaks are Bush`s fault! :-P

ThePrez on June 19, 2012 at 7:15 PM

The Hopey/Changey Clowns are gonna start WW3 at
the rate there leaking,er,going!!

canopfor on June 19, 2012 at 7:13 PM

The chances of that are increasing.

dogsoldier on June 19, 2012 at 7:15 PM

If this had been a Republican administration, this information would have been false information given to exactly one suspected leaker.

pedestrian on June 19, 2012 at 7:18 PM

Did Jug Ears personally upload it into the network from Prague via a flash drive he obtained after he knifed an enemy operative with a sharpened plastic straw??

HE IS SO AWESOME!!!

BigWyo on June 19, 2012 at 7:19 PM

Urgent news from Fox:
Issa says Meerkat came up short on documents today.
Contempt of Congress vote to take place on Wednesday.

the new aesthetic on June 19, 2012 at 7:20 PM

…it’s the ECOMONY stupid…!!!

KOOLAID2 on June 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Just as we thought! IT’S ALL BUSH’S FAULT!

GarandFan on June 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

An error in the code, they said, had led it to spread to an engineer’s computer when it was hooked up to the centrifuges. When the engineer left Natanz and connected the computer to the Internet, the American- and Israeli-made bug failed to recognize that its environment had changed. It began replicating itself all around the world.

Well, at least that explains why my garbage disposal stopped working.

MichaelGabriel on June 19, 2012 at 7:22 PM

How much of it did President Rambo personally design?

farsighted on June 19, 2012 at 7:04 PM

None.

If he had designed it, it would have been named, “Lame,” NOT “Flame.”
And it would have posted the message: “Brought to you by Me, President of the United States, Barak Obama. See, here’s my photo to prove I DID IT! It was ALL MY IDEA!

TheClearRiver on June 19, 2012 at 7:25 PM

Urgent news from Fox:
Issa says Meerkat came up short on documents today.
Contempt of Congress vote to take place on Wednesday.

the new aesthetic on June 19, 2012 at 7:20 PM

Meerkat??

*snicker*

BigWyo on June 19, 2012 at 7:26 PM

And it would have posted the message: “Brought to you by Me, President of the United States, Barak Obama. See, here’s my photo to prove I DID IT! It was ALL MY IDEA!

TheClearRiver on June 19, 2012 at 7:25 PM

And it would have had a link to his campaign donation site….

BigWyo on June 19, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Not exactly a mystery – there are exactly two nations on earth with the motivation, the money, and the expertise to pull this off.

greggriffith on June 19, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Global stovetop burners are turned up to full boil right now and might be approaching 1914 levels soon, so a summit photograph of a re-set button weilding Obama slouching petulantly and uncomfortably next to a pissed-off dont take my picture Putin was both disheartening and nauseating.

Sacramento on June 19, 2012 at 7:33 PM

It’s too bad we don’t have a President that actually accomplished something in 3.5 years that would sell.

Electrongod on June 19, 2012 at 7:33 PM

Panetta.

Bmore on June 19, 2012 at 7:33 PM

I don’t think the leaks are coordinated at all and each leaker has his own agenda. I doubt any one is fully in charge, Valerie Jarrett maybe has the most control and maybe this was orchestrated by her to embarrass Israel more than anything. I get this sense that this President is aloof and not fully engaged, delegating most of his responsibilities and therefore we have a real cluster in the White House.

Rancher on June 19, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Drip, drip…It’s the Joooos!! Did obama just throw the israelis under the bus….alas, AGAIN??? With such ‘friends” I guess they don’t need enemies…. Will see how the support of Jews for obama looks in 2, 3 weeks….another 10% drop….

jimver on June 19, 2012 at 7:41 PM

The point here isn’t to spill the beans about Flame’s capabilities, it’s — as Ace says — to blame Israel for the virus’s discovery.

Mr. Obama, according to officials in the room, asked a series of questions, fearful that the code could do damage outside the plant. The answers came back in hedged terms. Mr. Biden fumed. “It’s got to be the Israelis,” he said. “They went too far.”
===============================================

Well ya know,the Left are always saying and stating the Isreal is
going to faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar!!:)

I say,the Left, can go BOINK themselves!

canopfor on June 19, 2012 at 7:47 PM

None. If he had designed it, it would have been named, “Lame,” NOT “Flame.”
And it would have posted the message: “Brought to you by Me, President of the United States, Barak Obama. See, here’s my photo to prove I DID IT! It was ALL MY IDEA!

TheClearRiver on June 19, 2012 at 7:25 PM

Looooooool :)…

jimver on June 19, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Urgent news from Fox:
Issa says Meerkat came up short on documents today.
Contempt of Congress vote to take place on Wednesday.

the new aesthetic on June 19, 2012 at 7:20 PM

the new aesthetic:Yup!!
========================

Contempt vote coming on Fast and Furious
6/19/12 6:31 PM EDT Updated: 6/19/12 6:49 PM EDT
************************************************

Fiery California Rep. Darrell Issa is planning to move forward with a committee vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, a major escalation in the ongoing Fast and Furious scandal.

A late Tuesday meeting at the Capitol between Issa and Holder failed to produce an immediate agreement to head off a Wednesday vote in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to hold Holder in contempt. Issa and his Republican colleagues contend that Holder has not forked over documents that the committee has subpoenaed to detail the operation, which gave guns to Mexican cartels.
(More…………..)
======================

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77610.html

canopfor on June 19, 2012 at 7:19 PM

canopfor on June 19, 2012 at 7:54 PM

canopfor on June 19, 2012 at 7:13 PM

The chances of that are increasing.

dogsoldier on June 19, 2012 at 7:15 PM

dogsoldier:Ugh——-:)

canopfor on June 19, 2012 at 7:55 PM

Ok guy, knock the crap off. There is nothing new here and I am supprised and bemused that Allah even bothered to put this up. The Stuxnet and Flame ” software ” has been around and known about for over a year! The only thing that can be counted as being new? humm.. that would be the confirmation that it is a US-Israel operation, although that is what was thought when they first raised the nasty little virus head. Other than that, this is not news but retread.

Mark

mailmars on June 19, 2012 at 8:11 PM

You know why the whole region pees their pants when they see the word Israel? Because we’re willing to go too far. It’s amusing to me the way American media actually thinks anyone here in Israel cares what your man child president, or his geratric moron friend Mr. Biden think. The only thing they are good at is running great countries into the ground.

saus on June 19, 2012 at 8:12 PM

They must’ve seen those new polls from Colorado and Washington.

SouthernGent on June 19, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Now since Obama isn’t mentioned, we can get bi-partisan support to find out who is leaking…

right2bright on June 19, 2012 at 8:41 PM

Maybe the whole goal is obfuscation about what we’ve don and what Israel’s done?

The original goal of plausible deniability was a casualty of Obama’s campaign desperation, so maybe obfuscation is as close as we can come now.

tom on June 19, 2012 at 9:12 PM

That’s right, keep the sieve WIDE open. It’s pretty impressive that Team Obama doesn’t even need to issue the directive anymore. The leaks are now standard practice.

minnesoter on June 19, 2012 at 10:16 PM

U.S. and Israel developed

LOL this is great cover for those Russian hackers.
Keep it up BESM-6 warriors!

Kenosha Kid on June 20, 2012 at 1:20 AM