Green Room

New York Times Back in the “Intelligence Sharing Business”

posted at 7:54 am on February 16, 2010 by

The capture of the Taliban’s top commander was shared to the world by the New York Times last night.  John Q. Public could have known this valuable intelligence days ago, but the Times felt is was necessary to show some restraint at the government’s request.  Only when the Times became aware that Mullah Baradar’s capture was “becoming widely known”, did the “Paper of Record” decide to release their Time-ly classified information.

“WASHINGTON — The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials.

The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks………

“The New York Times learned of the operation on Thursday, but delayed reporting it at the request of White House officials, who contended that making it public would end a hugely successful intelligence-gathering effort.The officials said that the group’s leaders had been unaware of Mullah Baradar’s capture and that if it became public they might cover their tracks and become more careful about communicating with each other………”

The Times is publishing the news now because White House officials acknowledged that the capture of Mullah Baradar was becoming widely known in the region.

Several American government officials gave details about the raid on the condition that they not be named, because the operation was classified.

American officials believe that besides running the Taliban’s military operations, Mullah Baradar runs the group’s leadership council, often called the Quetta Shura because its leaders for years have been thought to be hiding near Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province in Pakistan.”  Link  (emphasis mine)

One has to wonder if American officials now  think there are any “leaders” still hiding near Quetta with this “Time-ly” release of critical intel.  It must be understood that the Times felt it necessary to not get scooped on a story, and to assure the all important “public’s right to know”.  And, of course, the public really needed to have this information so the Founder of the Taliban could have ample time to find an early exit from possible capture:

“It was unclear whether he was talking, but the officials said his capture had provided a window into the Taliban and could lead to other senior officials. Most immediately, they hope he will provide the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, the one-eyed cleric who is the group’s spiritual leader.”

We can all feel a bit safer knowing the Times has closed this window of opportunity.  I’m sure the CIA and Pakistani officials sent a hearty thanks to the New York Times for diligently holding the story as long as they did.  Possibly having a window of opportunity to track down and capture the Founder of the Taliban and even get a trace on Osama bin Laden would have devastated the Times over-seas contingency, crippling the need for assets in the region.  We can all thank the Times for doing their part to keep Obama’s unemployment figures down.  After all, a few jobs “saved or created” is far more important than crippling the war on terrorism.

With this kind of classified intelligence-sharing, doesn’t this make you feel like calling the Times up and renewing your subscription?

Update: Michelle Malkin thinks the Times “patriotically” waited  a bit longer out of respect for our new administration—rarely shown during the Bush era:

Fancy that. The terror-tipping NYT blabbermouths who repeatedly undermined national security during the Bush years by disclosing sensitive/classified information about many key counterterrorism programs are now sensitive to ongoing counterterrorism operations. The paper that went to court to force the government to release classified information about jihadis and has shown reckless disregard for the consequences of disclosure is now delaying reports at the request of White House officials.

How generous and patriotic of the Fishwrap of Record to see the light, isn’t it?

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The New York Times learned of the operation on Thursday, but delayed reporting it at the request of White House officials, who contended that making it public would end a hugely successful intelligence-gathering effort.

On the other hand, that’s probably four more days the Times withheld the information about Ghani Baradar than they would have if they had found it out under the Bush Administration.

jon1979 on February 16, 2010 at 8:43 AM

My question becomes, WHO ARE THE LEAKS?

Why isn’t anyone going to jail for leaking classified material… and why does there seem to be no investigation of how the NYT keeps getting classified material.

Romeo13 on February 16, 2010 at 1:17 PM