Sunday, September 21, 2008

What the hell is Bob Woodward talking about?

On Sixty Minutes last week, Bob Woodward (you remember, the guy who with buddy Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate story and inspired a generation of journalists) said the US military had a secret weapon that was akin to the tank or the airplane in the evolution of warfare.

In an interview with Scott Pelley, Woodward said he knew the secret but couldn't reveal it. The surge in Iraq had worked, Woodward said, not because of the increase in troops but because of a new technology that allows the military to locate and kill individual insurgents. He compared this "sophisticated and lethal special operations program" to the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb.

Terrific. What kind of fresh Orwellian hell is this? We know how much safer the atomic bomb the world. And of course we'll only use this wonderful new weapon against the bad guys, right? And nobody else will ever get it, right?

It is unsettling that a journalistic icon would withhold information. He said he was doing it out of a desire to protect lives, that to reveal the information would "get people killed." Okay, maybe. But if so, then probably best not to mention it at all. Unfortunately, it sounds more like he's been drinking the DOD's Kool Aid. I cannot imagine any program, short of the old (and discredited) Star Gate psychic intelligence, which would so dramatically change the face of warfare.