“This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” the newspaper reported the U.S. official as saying. “Cyber-collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this [Flame],” confirming that operations were ongoing.
“It [Flame] doesn’t mean that other tools aren’t in play or performing effectively,” the official reportedly said.
Normally, newspaper reports such as this would be part of the stream of interesting speculation of the sort that has appeared from time to time since Stuxnet’s discovery almost two years ago.
That U.S. officials seem to be queuing up to claim responsibility for a cyberweapon most people already believe was the work of the U.S. suggests that the administration is complimenting software war with a psychological counterpart.
The cover blown, the U.S. might now be making the best use of Flame as a warning to Iran of its intent, capability and ingenuity.
The role of Israel and other countries remains less clear. According to the Washington Post report, Israel used the same Flame independent of U.S. direction during the oil terminal attack, which suggests a looser and less disciplined modus operandi than officials have tried to project.
In the U.S., the revelations about the apparent cyber-weapons program have already been dismissed by Senator John McCain as part of an attempt by President Barrack Obama to portray himself as being tough on Iran.