Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How Is This Helpful?

The WaPo has a long article on the US operation to kill Abu Laith al-Libi. Presumably it's newsworthy because it describes the growing use of unilateral US operations inside Pakistan and the attendant resistance of the Pakistanis. But it also contains the following tidbits:
Hours before the attack, multiple sources said, the CIA was alerted to a convoy of vehicles that bore all the signatures of al-Qaeda officers on the move. Local residents -- who two sources said were not connected to the Pakistani army or intelligence service -- began monitoring the cluster of vehicles as it passed through North Waziristan, a rugged, largely lawless province that borders Afghanistan.
And this:
With all signs pointing to a unique target, CIA officials ordered the launch of a pilotless MQ-1B Predator aircraft, one of three kept at a secret base that the Pakistani government has allowed to be stationed inside the country. Launches from that base do not require government permission, officials said.
Now, are either of these juicy details relevant to the narrative of the story? They're certainly dramatic. But how likely is it that Al Qaeda will now change their convoying procedures? Would they have tumbled to this without the WaPo's help? Perhaps, but these guys are not known for being the brightest bulbs in the factory. They do read, however.

The Post is usually fairly good about concealing operational information. This is a pretty big lapse.

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