Saturday, August 07, 2004

Strange Days

Over at Majikthise, via MSNBC, we learn why no one believed chicken little when he bemoaned the falling of the sky. Apparently the Orange Alert was preceded by no credible evidence, or at least any recent intelligence, so the administration, after being understandably pressured to show stronger justification for the Alert, outed a double agent. The double agent was Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, an al-Qaida member captured in July by Pakistani intelligence and now working with US intelligence to infiltrate al-Qaida. It is not yet know how the New York Times acquired Khan's name by Monday, however; but the Bush administration confirmed Khan's identity with other news organizations.
So it appears that after the terror alert issued Sunday by the Department of Homeland Security, The New York Times publish Khan's name--information they likely acquired eariler since Khan was caputered in July-- assuming that he may have been the reason for the Terror Alert. What the Times hadn't know was that Khan had been working as a double agent for US intelligence, and that they had just comprimised him.
The Times operated under the assumption, rightly, that the terror alert was credible, and that Khan was likely the source. This begs the question: Why would the Admistration comprimse its own source? Simple answer: they didn't intend to. They possibly weren't aware that Khan's name was on the grid. It's clear that the terror warning was bogus, so the Administration had to show evidence that it wasn't, thus outing a July caputre--who was helping them, no less. What this meant was that now British Intelligence had to move quickly against the suspects Khan had helped put under surveillance. Kevin Drum says it better:
What in God's green earth is going on here? I have a whole stew of reactions swirling around in my head about this. I'm beside myself that Bush administration officials are so spineless that they'd kill an undercover operation just to remove some political heat from themselves. But: I'm also angry that the reaction to Sunday's terror warning from Bush critics was so hysterical that the Bushies got panicked into doing this. And yet: I'm furious that Bush and his cronies have so corrupted our intelligence services that deep skepticism was hardly an unfair reaction. But: why did Tom Ridge insist on politicizing Sunday's news in the first place? On the other hand: why did the New York Times print this? Did they know they were blowing an operation?
It's a complicated story right now; but it seems like a simple explanation can be given: Who's working hard to destroy America? Let's hopes the Bush administration didn't botch this one.

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