the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

July 15, 2005

Politics Above Security in the White House: Did London Pay the Price?


The White House’s destruction of Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA operative (one investigating weapons of mass destruction) to punish her husband, Joe Wilson, for saying things the administration didn’t like is hardly the only time the Bush administration has weighed political advantage as more important than national security. Probably the worst example is Bush & Co.’s use of the September 11 attacks to divide the country for political purposes and alienate the rest of the world — squandering a unique opportunity to unite the country and make use of the sympathy from the global community to make us all safer.

For a more specific example, think back to the time of last year’s Democratic convention. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge raised the alert level to orange for some cities and financial institutions, and he politicized his alert by including the statement “the kind of information available to us today is the result of the President’s leadership in the war against terror.” When people were skeptical about the alert (which was based on three-year-old information), the administration — apparently desparate to show that the threat was real — revealed the name of a captured Al Qaeda member who was the source. Unfortunately, the informant, Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, was cooperating and acting as a mole at the time (other Al Qaeda members didn’t know he’d been captured), and after his name was revealed his usefulness was ended. Undercover agents within Al Qaeda aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, but the Bush campaign/administration destroyed one to reduce a political embarrassment.

I bring this up now because Americablog has a long post detailing the connection between the Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan incident and last week’s London bombings (Juan Cole has more). It’s possible that if Khan had been able to continue as a mole the network responsible for the bombings could have been unraveled before they were able to kill scores of people. But that would have required the Bush folks to value something above scoring political points.

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DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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