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Monday, August 09, 2004
The Bushman: Undermining Terrorism One Operative At A Time
By now you've probably heard about how the Bush Administration leaked the arrest of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan to justify its raised terror alert level. To illustrate some of the ridiculously political aspects of the situation, I have taken two articles, published just minutes apart, and compared their contents side-by-side. The first one, which will be presented in red text, comes from NewsMax and is entitled Bush Adviser: U.S. Believes It Has Disrupted Terror Planning. The second, from CNN and in green, is called U.S. leak 'ends al Qaeda sting'. Together, it looks kind of like a big Christmas present for somebody. I won't say whom.
The Bush administration believes it has undermined al-Qaida's plans for attacking the United States with the recent arrests of suspected terrorists and the seizure of detailed surveillance of financial buildings.
The effort by U.S. officials to justify raising the terror alert level last week may have shut down an important source of information that has already led to a series of al Qaeda arrests, Pakistani intelligence sources have said.
"I certainly think that by our actions now that we have disrupted it," said Frances Fragos Townsend, President Bush's homeland security adviser. "The question is, have we disrupted all of it or a part of it? And we're working through an investigation to uncover that," she told "Fox News Sunday."
Until U.S. officials leaked the arrest of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan to reporters, Pakistan had been using him in a sting operation to track down al Qaeda operatives around the world, the sources said.
In cooperation with U.S. intelligence agencies, authorities in Pakistan and Britain have detained suspected al-Qaida operatives, while computer files uncovered in Pakistan contained surveillance information of five financial sites in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J. The United States issued a terror alert based on that information.
The unnamed U.S. officials leaked Khan's name along with confirmation that most of the surveillance data was three or four years old, arguing that its age was irrelevant because al Qaeda planned attacks so far in advance.
"Three years ago, Pakistan was not a fighter in the war on terrorism," [Condoleeza] Rice said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "And here you have them able to take down terrorists and to provide information, which then could be shared."
Then on Friday, after Khan's name was revealed, government sources told CNN that counterterrorism officials had seen a drop in intercepted communications among suspected terrorists.
"The idea that you would somehow play politics with the security of the American people - that you would not go out and warn if you have casing reports on buildings that are highly specific," Rice said. "Are you really supposed to not tell?"
"The Pakistani interior minister, Faisal Hayat, as well as the British home secretary, David Blunkett, have expressed displeasure in fairly severe terms that Khan's name was released, because they were trying to track down other contacts of his," Schumer told CNN.
Tom Ridge: How Low Will It Go?