'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

What Color is the Wolf Today? 

Found this interesting, from the Independent Institute via Tbogg:

There may well be a real threat this time, but the information picked up in Pakistan indicated that al Qaeda had been conducting surveillance on financial buildings in these two cities for years and it apparently provided no specific intelligence of an imminent attack on a particular date. Al Qaeda conducted surveillance on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania for four years before striking. Is the government going to keep the alert system at the orange level for another four years or only until the November election? Given the sorry performance of the U.S. intelligence agencies prior to September 11(as noted by the 9/11 Commission) and on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (as exposed by the Senate Intelligence Committee), how do we know that the “treasure trove” discovered in Pakistan is not false information deliberately planted by al Qaeda either to scare the American public or to tweak a response from U.S. defenses so that al Qaeda can better learn how they react?

If President Bush and his security apparatus really want to make us safer, they should use the alert system differently. Every time the U.S. government meddles overseas—for example, needlessly invading the Islamic country du jour—and enlarges the bull’s eye already painted on us here at home, the alert level should be raised a notch. Thus, in this election year, voters would have a better idea of exactly how safe government actions overseas were making all of us here at home. Gauging from the sheepishly revised State Department report showing that terrorism has recently been on the rise, the threat to America posed by the Bush administration’s foreign policy is clearly in the red zone.

I have another question to add to those posed in the first paragraph above: how do we know that the treasure trove of intelligence data discovered in Pakistan exists? Other commentators have speculated that the leaker of the treasure trove story was a CIA operative trying to create positive spin for the demoralized agency; however, such a motive only makes sense if the discovered intelligence was fresh, solid, and useful. Given the NY Times' revelation that the freshness, specificity, and value of the information found in Pakistan was greatly exaggerated, one wonders about the motive of the leaker? One also questions the veracity of this whole little narrative ... during the Democratic National Convention it is revealed that Pakistan has captured a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda (who no one has ever heard of and who had nothing to do with 911) and BushCo raises the terrorism threat level. Democrats accuse Republicans of playing politics. All of a sudden there are stories in the press about a treasure of trove of intelligence discovered in Pakistan as a direct result of the raid in which the al-Qaeda member who no one has ever heard of was captured. The intelligence, these stories claim, documents specific attacks on specific US targets, thus the raised threat level was justified ... but it turns out that the intelligence was stale and wasn't really that specific ... umm ... Maybe the real exaggeration here was of the existence of this coherent cache of intelligence, given that the most likely motive for the leak about the cache was politics. I'm sure that lots of intelligence has been gathered in Pakistan; I'm sure there was useful data on Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan's laptop, but to characterize it as a "treasure trove"? To claim, as was claimed by an unnamed US official in the Times, that "the material was more detailed and precise than any he had seen in a quarter of a century of intelligence work"? The whole thing looks like a Rove operation.

God, this administration will make conspiracy theorists of us all ...

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