Said Bob Baer, "They are outsourcing intelligence and they are having to go to the Jordanians and ask them for help getting into al Qaeda because we simply cannot, as blond haired blue eyed Americans, cannot get into these camps."
In reality, al-Balawi was sincere about the extreme messages he posted on al Qaeda websites. "He demanded violence against the United States in the most brutal way," said Jarret Brachman, the author of "Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice." "He was rabidly pro al Qaeda."
Al-Balawi was a constant presence on on-line jihadist forums, said Brachman, and was widely respected. "Within the most elite forums he was on the most elite list of authors."
For U.S. intelligence, said Brachman, he was a "golden goose," a "trophy asset."
The death of so many officers, and the failure to identify a double agent, said Bob Baer, is likely to make the CIA gun-shy for quite some time. "They are going to look at every walk-in, as we call it, as a potential suicide bomber. Everybody is going to be vetted 10, 20 times."
"It's going to be impossible to get outside the wire," said Baer. "It has been a huge setback for intelligence collection in Afghanistan."
The Jordanian intelligence officer who handled al-Balawi, Sharif Ali bin Zeid, was a member of the royal family. He was buried with a royal funeral that was attended by the king and queen of Jordan.
While the U.S. and Jordan mourned their deaths, a Web site from al-Balawi's tribe described him today as a hero and said it was the most devastating attack against the CIA in the last 30 years.