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Tom Ridge Bombshell Only Scratches Surface: Plame II

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Former Dept. of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge's revelation that he was forced to raise the "terror alert" level in the summer of 2004 in order to sway the election towards Bush could revive the more severe and lesser-known betrayal of this episode, which could be called Valerie Plame II. It involved a Pakistani double-agent, Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, who in the words of one security expert at the time "could have led to bin Laden himself ("Outing of spy stuns security experts.")

The original New Zealand Herald piece reported:

The revelation that a mole within al Qaeda was exposed after Washington launched its "orange alert" this month has shocked security experts, who say the outing of the source may have set back the war on terror.

Reuters learned from Pakistani intelligence sources at the weekend that computer expert Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, arrested secretly last month, was working under cover to help the authorities track down al Qaeda militants in Britain and the United States when his name appeared in newspapers around the world.

"After his capture he admitted being an al Qaeda member and agreed to send emails to his contacts," a Pakistani intelligence source said.

"He sent encoded emails and received encoded replies. He's a great hacker and even the US agents said he was a computer whiz."

Last weekend US officials said someone held secretly by Pakistan was the source of the bulk of the information justifying the alert.

And who might "US officials" be? My bet is they were connected to the office of a man whose nickname begins with a D and last name starts with a Ch.

As you might recall, when asked what the summer 2004 NYC Financial District were based on, administration officials trotted out 2-year-old "leads" of Couldn't Shoot Straight Gangs trying to bring down steel bridges with blowtorches and such. This was too much even for our gullible press, which finally began to ridicule. So, to show they were serious, the Bushies did what came naturally. They blew the cover of a real asset.

Tim Ripley, a security expert who writes for Jane's Defense publications, said:

"You have to ask: what are they doing compromising a deep mole within al Qaeda, when it's so difficult to get these guys in there in the first place?

"It goes against all the rules of counter-espionage, counter-terror-ism, running agents and so forth. It's not exactly cloak and dagger undercover work if it's on the front pages every time there's a development, is it?"

Sen. Chuck Schumer once wrote a letter to the White House on the subject, and told CNN:

"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 noted in his letter to the White House that Khan might possibly have led to bin Laden.

The real question is, will Americans catch wise to the fact that those who so readily accuse their political enemies of opening America to blood on the streets, by refusing to torture and making other "compromises" in national security, in fact opened them to attack by punching holes in the only shield which truly protects us? In this "new kind of war" it is the networks of eyes and ears which tell us the number of a shipping container or a license plate number on a truck packed with fertilizer.

As the most visible ex-vice president in history Dick Cheney has spent an inordinate amount of time on the talk show circuit saying his torture saved lives, and that abolishing torture endangers the nation. The truth is, for tangible damage to the national security, no one comes close to what the Bush administration has wrought. After 9/11, Bush and Cheney astutely thundered in the language of the old kind of war, in which armies massed and it was better to "fight them there rather than here." The trouble is, all the soldiers in the world in the Middle East won't tell you the location of a vial of bio-agent, but a single disillusioned jihadi can. Bush and Cheney beat their war clubs loudly on their shields to gain the loyalty of the frightened and feeble-minded, knowing that this kind of war instead called for spies with minds like chessmasters.

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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on the (more...)
 
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