Was This Smart?

Major New York Times story this morning about how the capture of a Pakistani “computer geek” led to Sunday’s unusually precise terror threat warnings from Tom Ridge:

The figure, Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, was described by a Pakistani intelligence official as a 25-year-old computer engineer, arrested July 13, who had used and helped to operate a secret Qaeda communications system where information was transferred via coded messages.

Is it a good thing that we (or the Pakistanis) have got a guy like this, to say nothing of the invaluable computer and communications records apparently captured with Khan? (KHAAAAAAN! Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Of course it is.

Was it a smart thing for somebody to tell the New York Times about it? That I’m not so sure about. On the one hand, Khan’s compatriots almost certainly know that he’s been captured by now, and may well have given up anything he had knowlege of or access to as a lost cause.

On the other hand, there’s that little voice that says, “There’s no need to brag, guys. Blabbing to the press is how you lost access to Osama’s satellite phones, you know.” We still don’t know what we don’t know, and analysis of the KHAAAAN! information will take a long time to complete. Better to call the reasons for the threat warnings “good intelligence,” and leave it at that.

Of course, there are some collateral benefits from knowing the quality of the new threat intel so precisely. For one, Howard Dean looks like an utter fool today (not that this was a surprise to anybody outside the Bush-is-Hitler fever swamps):

“I am concerned that every time something happens that’s not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism,” Howard Dean, a former rival of Mr. Kerry for the Democratic nomination, told Wolf Blitzer on CNN on Sunday.

“His whole campaign is based on the notion that ‘I can keep you safe, therefore at times of difficulty for America stick with me,’ and then out comes Tom Ridge,” Mr. Dean, the former Vermont governor, added, referring to the homeland security secretary. “It’s just impossible to know how much of this is real and how much of this is politics, and I suspect there’s some of both in it.”

Thank God a man so obsessed with his personal bigotries will never be Commander-In-Chief.

You might as well go apply for a job at Ben and Jerry’s, Howard. Kerry won’t be returning your calls after this idiocy. You’ve just condemned yourself to becoming the Pat Buchanan of the Democratic Party. And I have to say, it looks really good on you.