Here’s the dilemma. Either the information regarding this suspect is accurate or not. If it is, an Al Qaeda operative linked to biological and chemical weapons owns pharmacies in New York, giving him access to a variety of controlled substances that could be of use to terrorists. Though the US intelligence community possessed information about his Al Qaeda links at least three years ago, he’s still running drug stores in a city that is a magnet for Al Qaeda attacks and which is now on high alert following Bin Laden’s death. Alternately, if the information in this now-public document is incorrect, an innocent Pakistani businessman can easily be branded a terrorist, his life and businesses ruined, his family harmed, and his own safety jeopardized.
With the document now in the open—and on the Internet—the public has a right to know whether this potentially dangerous matter has been resolved. (And, if turns out the intel is faulty, the Pakistani businessman deserves to have his name cleared.) The FBI has the usual bureaucratic reasons for not commenting; it does not want to legitimize leaks. But alarming information of this sort does warrant a response. The critical issue is not the leak, but the nightmarish possibility of an anthrax operative on the loose.