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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, March 03, 2003

Mickey Has A Question

We have an answer. From Mickey:

Why did we find out about the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed almost immediately after the event? Wouldn't it have been better to keep the arrest secret while the U.S. and its allies rolled up those al Qaeda operatives whose whereabouts could be traced through Mohammeds' cell phone and computer, etc.? Why send out a worldwide alert, through CNN, to his co-conspirators, telling them it was time to scatter? Did the need for good publicity trump sound anti-terror techniques?

Now, my first reaction upon hearing the news of this arrest on Saturday night was to assume that the Administration was providing the Sunday talking heads a bit of good news to offset the debacle in Turkey. I have detected a whiff of news management before.

However, in my part-time role as apologist for the Bush Administration, let me offer some ideas. First, this story wonders whether KSH really was just arrested over the weekend.

Secondly, we recently had the increase in terrorist alert status, and reports that a major attack was imminent. Presuming for a moment that this is being taken seriously inside the Administration, then announcing the arrest of KSH may be an effective and immediate way of disrupting the terrorist cells, thereby preventing an immediate attack. This is a tricky trade-off, because a "stealth arrest" may have allowed the arrest of more al-Qaeda, as Mickey notes.

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