Once again, the Bush administration is abusing intelligence information for political gain at the expense of people's lives and the nation's security. It was hard to believe when it happened two years ago. That they would do it again is even more incredible. Then, many warned that the administration's bluster about mobile labs and aluminum tubes and weapons of mass desturction in Iraq was a deception, that the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz axis had long before convinced the president to invade Iraq. Since then, we've learned that the critics were right--disgusted former members of the administration like Paul O'Neill and Richard Clarke revealed that the decision to go to war had been made many months earlier. From then on, it was just lies and deception to gain public support.
Somehow, when the jolt of war hit and then the nightmare of occupation set in, the debate turned to one of failed intelligence--that it wasn't the American people who were being deceived, but the president and his advisors who had somehow been misled by the CIA. The mainstream media, which put so little effort into looking critically at the administration's claims before the war, were happy to go along with the switch.
Think of those days when you hear the story of how Bush administration officials gave reporters the name of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, the 25-year-old computer programmer arrested in Pakistan last month for his work with al Qaeda. Following his arrest, he cooperated with authorities, contacting al Qaeda operatives around the world and setting them up for capture. For intelligence agents, he was the Holy Grail.
Then, his name was given out by administration sources defending the terror warnings issued days after the Democratic convention. The administration came out touting the capture of a key al Qaeda operative. That blew his cover and allowed suspects to escape--sacrificing him and our security for political gain.
In the Triangle, here's something almost as incredible: The story was gaining worldwide attention last weekend, but as of Tuesday hadn't appeared in either The News & Observer or The Herald-Sun. Congress is getting involved, so you'll probably start hearing about it locally. But the fact that you went days not knowing (unless you watched Sunday morning TV or visit the blogosphere) is a sign that our local papers are still unwilling to confront the Bush administration and its lies. And that's as bad as the lies themselves.