Bush Administration Outing Of Double

Bush Administration Outing of Double Agent “Made no Sense”: Baer

Jim Lobe has a good summary of the state of play in the scandal of the Bush administration outing of double agent Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan. Two important points.

1) Lobe implicitly takes on the argument of the rightwing bloggers that the press is to blame for printing Khan’s name. He says,

‘ Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, confirmed Sunday briefing officials had given Khan’s name to the Times but insisted he was identified “on background,” an assertion that caused consternation among experienced journalists here, who know that everything said by officials “on background” can be quoted so long as the name of the briefing officials is not disclosed. ‘

Again, there is no way to shift the blame here from Tom Ridge or one of his aides, who told the press the information came from Khan. You don’t tell a big group of journalists something you don’t want to see in the newspapers the next day.

Lobe also writes:

‘ Similarly, the administration announced the arrest in Pakistan of a senior al-Qaeda operative, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, wanted for organizing the 1998 suicide bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, on the third day of the Democratic convention, and three weeks after the The New Republic weekly quoted Pakistani intelligence officials as saying the White House had asked them to announce the arrest or killing of any “high-value [al-Qaeda] target” any time between July 26 and 28, the first three days of the Democratic Convention. At the time, former CIA officer Robert Baer said the announcement made “no sense.” “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.” ‘

Meanwhile, kudos to New York Senator Charles Schumer, who has bravely taken up this issue and is pressing the White House to explain why it leaked Khan’s name to the press.

The most concerning information so far gleaned from Khan’s files is not the operations planned years ago but the evidence that a new, young generation is replenishing al-Qaeda’s ranks.