Failure of Intelligence: Pakistan

As anyone following the Newsweek Koran/Quran flushing story knows by now, the Pentagon didn’t have anything to say about it for ten days after the article was published, until people started dying in Afghan demonstrations. Apparently, the Muslim world reads American weeklies more closely than the US government does.

The New York Times article today contains this little bit of between-the-lines reporting showing just how out-of-touch (or duplicitious) the American intelligence services are:

The outcry over the Newsweek article apparently began in Pakistan, when Imran Khan, the legendary cricketer turned opposition politician, summoned reporters to a press conference on May 6 to draw attention to it. Once close to the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and a onetime crusader against corruption, Mr. Khan has been vocal in recent years against United States strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Islam is under attack in the name of the war on terror,” Mr. Khan, now one of General Musharraf’s most stalwart critics, told reporters. He pressed the Musharraf regime to demand an apology from Washington.

For the next several days, the report dominated the front pages of English and Urdu-language newspapers in Pakistan and became the center of debate in the Pakistan Parliament. Predictably, a coalition of Islamist parties seized on the Newsweek report to accuse General Musharraf’s government of colluding with the West against Islam. But the criticism was not limited to the religious right. Legislators from across the political spectrum denounced the reported desecration, and by Friday, May 13, Parliament had passed a unanimous resolution condemning it.

So for a week — beginning the day after the much-touted capture of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the latest #3 al-Qaeda guy — this was an issue in Pakistan, one of our allies in the War on Terror. It was a big enough issue that it made it to a resolution in their Parliament. Wouldn’t that have been an ideal time for the administration to deny that the incident had happened instead of waiting for the situation to get worse? Is anyone paying attention to what’s going on over there?

Scott McClellan, Larry DiRita, and the rest of the crowd pretending this is Newsweek‘s fault should be asked why the administration or Pentagon didn’t address this issue when it became a news story in Pakistan. If they claim they didn’t know it was an issue, people should consider how it’s possible that something could be in the news over there for a week and make it onto the floor of the Pakistani Parliament without someone in the Bush administration knowing about it. Then again, if you can’t get the information from someone by desecrating their religious practices, I suppose it’s not real information.