News reports often rely on quotes from both sourced and anonymous intelligence officials, usually to paint a particular picture of some political conflict. I always practice healthy skepticism toward anything intelligence officials say. Mind you, this does not mean I simply disbelieve anything they say, or that I'm one of those nutty people who believe in global conspiracies hatched in Langley, Virginia. I just believe that we should exercise scrutiny when we are told things by these people, because (a) they can be wrong, and (b) they can have an agenda.
For an example of (a), please read this article (via Mosharraf's twitter) about eleven Pakistani students in Britain who basically had their lives turned upside down. They were accused of being al-Qaeda agents because...
1. A few of them went to Wales in January, took their shirts off, and took pictures of themselves flexing muscles. This was interpreted as commando training by MI 5.
2. A few of them chose to eat together in Liverpool and Manchester. This was interpreted as "operational activity" by MI 5.
3. One of them, finding a wife through a matchmaking website, sent an email to the others which said: "My mates are well and my affair with Nadia is soon turning to family life. I met with Nadia family and we both parties have agreed to conduct the Nikkah [Islamic marriage contract] after 15th and before 20th of the month." The name "Nadia" was interpreted by MI 5 as a pseudonym for "explosive" and the email in general was interpreted as warning of a bomb attack.
If you think I am lying or joking, go read the article for yourself.