Thursday, July 29, 2004

You Ruined The Surprise

On July 7, 2004, The New Republic ran an article that had many explosive claims about the influence the Bush administration was exerting on Pakistan, through a mixture of threats and rewards, to produce a headline grabbing arrest of a senior al-Qaeda member before the election in November in order to buoy the President's sagging approval ratings. The article even went into detail about the preferred timing for the release of the news of capture:

The New Republic has learned that Pakistani security officials have been told they must produce HVTs [high-value al Qaeda targets] by the election. According to one source in Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), "The Pakistani government is really desperate and wants to flush out bin Laden and his associates after the latest pressures from the U.S. administration to deliver before the [upcoming] U.S. elections."

What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
At the time, this article was dismissed by many as yet another unfounded conspiracy theory or perhaps some misinformation by Pakistanis hostile to the Bush administration. But consider this amazing coincidence as reported on today:

Pakistani security forces have captured a high-level al Qaeda operative [Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani] who was on the FBI's most-wanted terrorist list in connection with the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa, Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said Thursday.
So, true to form the Pakistanis did produce a high value target before the election in November. What's even more amazing, they announced his capture on July 28th, the day that John Kerry is set to accept the nomination and address the Democratic Convention. That's right, the news was released today even though the suspect was captured "a few days back," according to Pakistani officials. Addressing the choice of timing to release the news to the press, Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said "officials wanted to be sure of Ghailani's identity before making the capture public." Pardon my skepticism.

This of course raises some very disturbing questions. Most importantly, if the Bush administration was capable of pressuring the Pakistanis, and these efforts got results, why did they wait until the summer of 2004 to use this tactic? Why the special interest in the news being released during the Democratic Convention? Shouldn't the effort to round up and neutralize al-Qaeda be the foremost goal, surpassing political considerations? Would the world not have been safer had not Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani been apprehended before July 2004?

I'm afraid that the answer to those questions leads to some pretty damning conclusions. It certainly seems that the Bush administration has not been vigilant in its prosecution of the war against radical Islamist jihadists. The safety of this country is in the hands of people who are more concerned with polls and elections, than doing everything within their power to take down al-Qaeda. Once again, as foretold in the prescient admonishments of Paul O'Neill, John DiIulio, and Richard Clarke, politics has trumped policy for the "Mayberry Machiavellis."

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?