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August 09, 2004

Politics first, intelligence... never

So The Poor Man tells us all about the Bush administration's other Pakistani "Stop the Presses!"--and how it also may have compromised the goals of good intelligence. The al Qaeda bad guy they announced having nabbed at the end of the Democratic convention last month had actually been nabbed four days earlier (inconveniently, at a time with less news value for the Badministration). The only problem is, the expedient time to released that information came before intelligence officials had fully interrogated him. Even those crazy Pakistanits knew what a bad idea this was:

Though there is no policy governing how long to keep such arrests secret, standard intelligence practices dictate that the capture should not have been made public until investigators had finished with Ghailani (and the laptop and computer disks he had been captured with). Indeed, Ghailani may still talk, but some current and former American officials fear that, by broadcasting his name around the world, the Pakistanis have reduced the value of the intelligence that interrogators can extract from him. "Now, anything that he was involved in is being shredded, burned, and thrown in a river," a senior counterterrorism official told the Los Angeles Times. "We have to assume anyone affiliated with this guy is on the run ... when, usually, we can get great stuff as long as we can keep it quiet." Adds former CIA operative Robert Baer: "It makes no sense to make the announcement then. Presumably, everything [Al Qaeda] does is compartmented. By announcing to everybody in the world that we have this guy, and he is talking, you have to assume that you shoot tactics. To keep these guys off-balance, a lot of this stuff should be kept in secret. You get no benefit from announcing an arrest like this. You always want to get these guys when they are on vacation, when they are not expecting you."

Strong leader. Safer America. Turning a corner. Full of shit.

Posted by jay at August 9, 2004 05:31 PM | TrackBack
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