The Needs Of The Many…

Last week, I asked, “Was this smart?” of the revalations that Pakistan had captured Al-Queda computer nerd Muhammad Naeem Noor KHAAAN! Based on an AP report today, the answer appears to be no:

Two senior Pakistani officials said the reports in “Western media” enabled other al-Qaida suspects to get away.

“Let me say that this intelligence leak jeopardized our plan and some al-Qaida suspects ran away,” one of the officials said on condition of anonymity.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Sunday that Khan’s name had been disclosed to reporters in Washington “on background,” meaning that it could be published, but the information could not be attributed by name to the official who had revealed it.

The Pakistani officials said that after Khan’s arrest, other al-Qaida suspects abruptly changed their hide-outs and moved to unknown places.

[snip]

Without naming any country, he said it was the responsibility of “coalition partners” to examine how a foreign journalist was able to have an access to the “classified information” about Khan’s arrest.

Now, I’m open to the idea that we’re seeing some buck-passing on the part of the Pakistanis here. It’s within the realm of possibility that people in the ISI may well have their own reasons for seeing Jihadis evade capture, and could well have tipped them off independently of the KHAAAN! newspaper leaks.

But this was still not a smart thing to do. It was entirely out of bounds for Dr. Demento Dean to accuse the Administration of cooking up a threat alert for political reasons, but that didn’t make it okay to give the New York Times detailed intel information.

Memo to the Bushies: Yes, you need to win your election to go on and win the war. Don’t let that make you think you have license to be goaded into making mistakes that hurt the war effort. If the moonbats want to rant, let ’em rant. They look like fools to the rest of the country anyway. Let the wordsmiths handle the domestic yahoos. Keep your powder dry for the enemies with guns and bombs.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus and John Marzan offer up detailed and pretty compelling evidence that KHAAAN! was outed by the Pakistanis, not the US. My thanks to both, and bad on me for not doing what they did–checking the actual verbage in the original Times story before taking Reuters’ word for it.

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16 Responses to “The Needs Of The Many…”

  1. rosignol Says:

    But this was still not a smart thing to do. It was entirely out of bounds for Dr. Demento Dean to accuse the Administration of cooking up a threat alert for political reasons, but that didn’t make it okay to give the New York Times detailed intel information.

    I blame the Democrats. They’re the ones who have created the environment of distrust and partisanship in which the Bush administration is accused of making up threats for political reasons.

    Bush could have sat on the info and let the moonbats bash him for inventing threats to scare people into voting Republican, with the risk that it would hurt him in November, or he could have released information to make it clear he wasn’t, with the risk that some al Qaeda would escape the net.

    He’s damned either way, and the thing that irritates me the most is that the people who made it this way aren’t being criticized for it.

    Pre-release of specific info, the theme was ‘Bush is trying to scare people’.

    Post-release of specific info, the theme is ‘Bush tipped off the terrorists’.

    Where’s the criticism of Dean for being a paranoid partisan f***wit?

  2. Charlie (Colorado) Says:

    I think this is being overplayed — possibly because it fits the “Bush is a moron” theory.

    This Khan guy would hav ebeen being watched, since he wa such a central point in the communications. (At least that’s how we’d do it, it’s just good tradecraft.)

    Once they actually arrested him, it was a matter of days at best before they realized that channel was blown.

  3. Sandy P Says:

    Rush covered this, leaked to the NYT – he thinks so they’ll go a little softer on W.

    Loose lips sink ships.

    Should be fired!

  4. Blaine Says:

    good post Charlie, If the man was arrested July 13, two and a half weeks before the leak, maybe they were on the second phase of the turning of Khaaan!!!

  5. bob mologna Says:

    I listened to an interesting interview today on an Irish newstalk radio station (Newstalk 106, Dublin). I didn’t catch the name of the interviewee and I have no links so take this as hearsay. The man being interviewed was a NY correspondent for a London paper and was clearly anti-bush, as was the presenter. But when asked about the supposed Bush Whitehouse leak of the terrorist’s name he replied that (I paraphrase) “Pakistan’s notoriously leaky ISI actually made the man’s name public and the Whitehouse only confirmed it the following day”

    He went on to condemn the Bush admin’ in ten different ways and made his contempt for the Americans clear but he did say that the Pakistanis were the original source of the leak. If anything, his anti-American bias lends credence to his assertion about the leak. He wasn’t trying to carry the can for Bush, that’s for sure.

    The level of anti-Americanism in Ireland these days is really quite depressing. I moved here ten years ago and it was different then. Ever since 9/11 I feel a sad disgust for my Irish friends embrace of Michael Moore’s worldview. This used to feel like home, now I’m moving back to the USA to get away from the Euro-view. God only knows what that will be like.

    Cheers.

  6. MarkD Says:

    Rosignol asks quite astutely:

    “where’s the criticism for Dean for being a partisan paranoid F***wit?”

    The answer is that the NYTimes and the DNC is currently run by people just as partisan and just as paranoid, so they don’t see any criticism of Dean as warranted, so it goes down the same hole as the coverage of Sandy Burglar stealing classified info. It’s also why the Dems can whine that an appointment of a CIA director with CIA field experience is a partisan appointment and why they’ll get away with it. As has been pointed out above, Bush is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Whoever leaked this should have known that the NYTimes wasn’t going to give Bush a fair shake no matter how much info they give them. But the alternative isn’t any less appealing: Dean’s accusations get traction, Bush loses the election, Kerry stops the War on Terror, Al Quaida overthrows Musharaff and runs Pakistan and it’s nukes like they used to run Afghanistan while President Kerry sits on his thumbs.

  7. Tom T. Says:

    Backing up Bob Molgna’s point, Reuters reports that “The New York Times obtained Khan’s name independently, and U.S. officials confirmed it when it appeared in the paper the next morning.” I.e., the NYT burned Khan.

  8. Bill West Says:

    Forget the political side. If the warning was worth making, then the administration had to do what was necessary to get people to take it seriously.

  9. Deaconess Says:

    How do we know that the Bushies, as Kurtz calls them, gave Kahn’s name to the NY Times? Kerry got briefed, maybe his camp did it.

  10. Dash Says:

    This issue pisses me off like no other. Whoever did this, be it the NYT, the CIA, FBI or Bush himself, they should be appologizing up and down and held accountable for this.

    From what I’m reading it’s a screw up of immense proportions and it’s really disgusting to have waited so long for such a perfect guy to set up these bastards, to then not utilize him to his fullest is very disheartening.

    Please please please bloggers, follow this story no matter where it leads.

  11. john marzan Says:

    It was a pakistani intelligence official and the NYT who outed Khan.

    My email to Juan Cole…

    ======

    First you have to understand that the NYT was the first newspaper to break the news about Khan’s arrest. Every other newspaper picked up on what the NYT story.

    Here’s google news on August 1 (Philippine time):

    http://news.google.com/news?svnum=10&as_scoring=d&num=20&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=%22naeem+noor+khan%22&btnG=Search+News&as_drrb=b&as_minm=8&as_mind=1&as_maxm=8&as_maxd=1

    you may have to adjust the setting to August 2 in the US.

    Here is the original New York Times article

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/02/politics/02intel.html?ex=1249099200&en=fb9a624b3a180ee7&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

    “The unannounced capture of a figure from Al Qaeda in Pakistan several weeks ago led the Central Intelligence Agency to the rich lode of information that prompted the terror alert on Sunday, according to senior American officials.

    The figure, Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, was described by a Pakistani intelligence official as a 25-year-old computer engineer, arrested July 13, who had used and helped to operate a secret Qaeda communications system where information was transferred via coded messages.

    A senior United States official would not confirm or deny that Mr. Khan had been the Qaeda figure whose capture led to the information.

    There you have it professor, the original leaker outing Khan was a Pakistani Intelligence officer, not Tom Ridge or DHS. The U.S. official wouldn’t even confirm the existence of Noor Khan until after his name was published on the effing NYT.

    More

    A senior United States official would not confirm or deny that Mr. Khan had been the Qaeda figure whose capture led to the information. But the official said “documentary evidence” found after the capture had demonstrated in extraordinary detail that Qaeda members had for years conducted sophisticated and extensive reconnaissance of the financial institutions cited in the warnings on Sunday.

    One senior American intelligence official said the information was more detailed and precise than any he had seen during his 24-year career in intelligence work. A second senior American official said it had provided a new window into the methods, content and distribution of Qaeda communications.

    “This, for us, is a potential treasure trove,” said a third senior American official, an intelligence expert, at a briefing for reporters on Sunday afternoon.

    Notice anything? These US officials only wanted to talk about intelligence information… probably because of pressure from the media to justify raising the terror alert to orange based on “outdated” (4 years old) info by releasing new details and to counter the charges that they were playing politics with the terror warnings. As far as I can see, NONE of them gave any names before the first NYT article on Khan came out.

    And this Reuters article backs up that claim:

    The New York Times obtained Khan’s name independently, and U.S. officials confirmed it when it appeared in the paper the next morning.

    Once that name is out in the public and in drudge’s website, the damage has been done and whether US officials should have confirmed the name or not, most of the blame should go to the NYT (and the unnamed Pakistani official) for setting us back on the WOT.

    Yes, Rice did admit that they confirmed the name on background, but that was after the Khan’s name was already released publicly.

    Horse. Barn. Door.

    Here’s more from the original NYT article:

    The American officials would say only that the Qaeda figure whose capture had led to the discovery of the documentary evidence had been captured with the help of the C.I.A. Though Pakistan announced the arrest last week of a Qaeda member, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian wanted in connection with the bombings of American embassies in East Africa in 1998, the American officials suggested that he had not been the source of the new threat information.

    An account provided by a Pakistani intelligence official made clear that the crucial capture in recent weeks had been that of Mr. Khan, who is also known as Abu Talha. The intelligence official provided information describing Mr. Khan as having assisted in evaluating potential American and Western targets for terrorist attacks, and as being representative of a “new Al Qaeda.”

    The Pakistani official described Mr. Khan as a fluent English speaker who had told investigators that he had visited the United States, Britain, Germany and other countries. Mr. Khan was one of thousands of Pakistani militants who trained in Afghanistan under the Taliban in the 1990’s, the Pakistani official said.

    If indeed Mr. Khan was the man whose arrest led the C.I.A. to new evidence, his role as a kind of clearinghouse of Qaeda communications, as described by the Pakistani intelligence official, could have made him a vital source of information. Since his arrest, Mr. Khan has described an elaborate communications system that involves the use of high and low technology, the Pakistani official said.

    2 points:

    1) Notice that the American official would only describe the man as an “Al Queda figure”, but the NYT describes Pakistani officials naming and describing Khan in detail.

    2) The NYT is not even sure if Khan’s arrest is what led the US to new evidence because the American officials did not name Khan at that time.

    As for this news:

    The Pakistani officials said that after Khan’s arrest, other al-Qaida suspects abruptly changed their hide-outs and moved to unknown places.

    The first official described the publication of the news of Khan’s arrest as “very disturbing.”

    “We have checked. No Pakistani official made this intelligence leak,” he said.

    I think this is just CYA for the Pakistani government.

    regards,
    John Marzan

    P.S. Again, I would like the NYT to explain themselves on this in the editorial. We’ve heard the US admin side through Condi Rice, now the NYT will have to explain themselves.

    I hope they do it soon because it is unfair for the Bush admin to take all the false blame for outing Khan. Their editors should clearly state the facts and not using “Clintonian” words to confuse readers.

    BTW, I have set this up for you so you can monitor the NYT if and when they come out with an editorial on the noor khan issue.

    http://news.google.com/news?svnum=10&as_scoring=d&num=20&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=source%3Anew_york_times+%22naeem+noor+khan%22&btnG=Search+News&as_drrb=b&as_minm=8&as_mind=1&as_maxm=8&as_maxd=31

    So far, they have not weighed in on this and their silence is DEAFENING.

  12. -Ed. Says:

    Mebbe someone wanted to watch and see where the rats would scurry to? Mebbe KHAAANN gave all, and was ready for his gold watch?

  13. Tim Says:

    This episode illuminates why we are either going to lose the war on terror, or at least suffer incredible losses (Manhattan, D.C.,) before we win. Our political/intellectual/cultural elites, esp. those on the liberal/Democrat side, hate Bush more than they do the terrorist, they hate Bush more than they love America. They’d rather play domestic gotcha political games to defeat Bush, regardless of its effect upon the war on terror. Their craven fecklessness is disgusting (e.g., Teddy “the swimmer” Kennedy’s statement at the convention: “we have nothing to fear but four more years of George Bush”) and weakens our political will to defeat the terrorists. It is an exercise in gross political and citizenry malpractice, and its costs in American blood will prove stunning.

    I fear they don’t care.

  14. Da Bunny Says:

    Wait a minute Tim. Either this was a horrible error by the administration, or it was done by someone else, or (least likely) it was really a clever ploy dressed up to look like an error.

    Whichever it is, how is it the Dem’s fault? If Rice’s statement was accurate, then it was Bush “playing domestic political games…regardless of its effect upon the war on terror.”

    And if this actually was done by someone else (the Pakistanis, or even the Kerry camp as someone suggested above) then they should be saying so. Letting would-be moles and friendly intelligence agencies think that we’re idiots who can’t be trusted with sensitive information seems unwise.

    Finally, if this really is a clever ploy, then the Democrats are backing it to the hilt by acting as if it were true.

    But however you slice it, I don’t see the Dem culpability…

  15. john marzan Says:

    My email to Sen. Schumer

    ==========

    Now that it is clear that the NYT and a Pakistani Intelligence officer was the one who leaked Noor Khan’s name to the public…

    …would you Sen. Schumer issue a public apology to the Bush administration for playing politics with your blatantly false accusations against the admin on “outing Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan”?

    …would you condemn the NYT for recklessly outing Khan which tipped off a few al queda suspects and allowed them to escape? I admit that this is a huge setback on the War on Terror, created not by the bush admin — but by the NEW YORK TIMES.

    Will you do those things sir? I will wait for your future press release re Khan’s outing in the media.

    Your democratic colleagues falsely accuse the Bush admin of playing politics with the terror warnings. But aren’t you one of the biggest offenders yourself, senator schumer?

    regards
    John Marzan

    if anybody else wants to write to Sen. Schumer about this, here’s his contact page:

    http://schumer.senate.gov/webform.html

    If any attacks on US soil occured in the future because a few al queda suspects escaped (after Khan’s name was released) to successfully conduct these attacks, remember what the NYT did, folks.

  16. john marzan Says:

    My letter to Juan Cole

    =======

    I noticed that you stopped blogging about “Khan’s outing” recently. Just like the NYT, which is currently silent on the Khan issue too.

    Now that it is clear that it was the NYT (with the help of a Pakistani Intelligence officer) who “outed Khan,” will you do a correction or set the record straight in your blog on your false accusations against the Bush admin?

    I noticed today that you tried to correct the NYT on Sistani. If you can correct the NYT and lambast the Bush admin on some made up charges, are you man enough to admit your own mistakes in your blog? Or are you like those “leftwing” and “rightwing” bloggers that refuse to admit their mistakes even if evidence show that they are wrong?

    Do you even care about the facts and the truth? Or are you only interested in partisan attacks against the Bush admin?

    John Marzan

    ====
    if anybody else wants to write to Professor Cole about this, here’s his contact email:

    jricole@yahoo.com

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