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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Pulling rabbits out of hats.

Surprise! At 6:22 pm this evening — Oh, I beg your pardon! Is that the day John Kerry is to receive the Democratic presidential nomination? Isn't that an amazing coincidence? — the New York Times reports the announcement of a major Al Qaeda arrest in Pakistan:

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, an Al Qaeda operative who is on the F.B.I.'s most-wanted terrorist list and had a $25 million reward for arrest, has been arrested in Pakistan, officials there said Thursday night. . . .

Mr. Ghailani was arrested after a fierce gunbattle on Sunday between Pakistani law enforcement officials and 12 Al Qaeda suspects in the city of Gujrat in eastern Pakistan, Pakistani officials said. They said the Qaeda members had been hiding at a rented house for more than a month.

Now, what was it the New Republic reported a few weeks back? Oh, yes — I remember:

[T]he Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." 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.

Wait a second. Did the Times story really suggest that Pakistani police had been monitoring the house for over a month? And did it really say that Ghailani was arrested four days ago? Why, yes it did!

My confidence in our president has just soared to new heights. What a leader: Always on deadline.

Update 7.30.04: And how about this little morsel? The Washington Post notes the peculiar hour of the Pakistani announcement:

"This is a big success," Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said in an unusual late-night announcement on Pakistan's Geo television network.

Late-night in Pakistan meant prime-time here. ("Pakistan Holds Top Al Qaeda Suspect," Kamran Khan, Washington Post 7.30.04, reg req'd; thanks, Melanie!)

Here's New Republic senior editor John B. Judis talking with Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman:

What our source said to us was it would be best if the arrest or killing of any high-value target were announced on 26, 27 or 28 of July which is the first three days of the convention. So it was announced on the fourth day. The question is why then? Already, there's some questions that I have seen raised from intelligence officials here because you have two, basically two possibilities. One is that they held the guy for several days before making the announcement on Thursday. So why, after having captured him on Sunday did they announce it then?

But you have an even more interesting question raised of why they announced it at all? Because when you have somebody who's been in hiding since 1998, they have an enormous amount of information and contacts. By announcing this guy's arrest, what you do is you warn off everybody who's been associated with him from the last five or six years. You tell them that they better get their act together or they are going to be found. So, there's some, really a lot of questions of why they announced this thing when they did. . . .

[P]olitics is supposed to end at the water's edge. When it intrudes in foreign policy, you get decisions that don't necessarily reflect the national interest, but simply reflect the interest of a particular party or individual wanting to make—wanting to win an election. Sometimes that can coincide with what everybody wants, but sometimes it can't. It may be in this case that we—that we, and the Pakistanis got somebody and prematurely announced this person's arrest in order to have an electoral impact.

("A July Surprise? Pakistan Announces Arrest of Top Al Qaeda Figure Hours Before Kerry Speech," Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! 4.30.04)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 29 July 2004 at 7:02 PM

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James Field:

July 30, 2004 01:10 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'm reminded of a cartoon I saw several years ago.

A couple of cows are having a conversation.

Cow 1: "Honey, I just found out where hamburgers come from!!!!"

Cow 2:"You leftists and your conspiracy theories."

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