Shut Up And Spy
From Andrew McCarthy, former federal prosecutor, on the media coverage of how we got al-Zarqawi:
Reading the account of events leading to the raid that killed Zarqawi in this morning's NYTimes provides a good object lesson in why our intelligence is so sparse.
Thanks yet again to people inside our intelligence community who don't know how to keep their mouths shut, one (or perhaps more) of the few valuable sources we have inside the jihadist network in Iraq is today no longer a valuable source — either (a) because enough information is now public that the bad guys can pretty easily figure out who among them is an informant and kill him (typically, in a grisly fashion to discourage others), or (b) because we have to extract the
informant to avoid that fate. The Times reports:
If you were thinking about betraying al Qaeda and becoming a U.S. informant, would you do it after hearing about or reading this?
[W]hat the Americans had always lacked was someone from inside Mr. Zarqawi's
network, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, who would betray him — someone close enough and trusted enough to show the Americans where he was.
According to a Pentagon official, the Americans finally got one. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the raid are classified, said that an Iraqi informant inside Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia provided the critical piece of intelligence about Mr. Rahman's [i.e., Zarqawi's "spiritual adivser"] meeting
with Mr. Zarqawi. The source's identity was not clear — nor was it clear how
that source was able to pinpoint Mr. Zarqawi's location without getting killed
himself. [ME: This means these things were not clear to the NYTIMES. You can bet they is now clear to al Qaeda.]
"We have a guy on the inside who led us directly to Zarqawi," the official said.
In a news release on Thursday morning, American military commanders hinted strongly that a member of Mr. Zarqawi's inner circle had pointed the way. "Tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders from his network led forces to al-Zarqawi," the release said.
Iraqi officials confirmed that Mr. Zarqawi had indeed been sold out by one of his
own. "We have managed to infiltrate this organization," said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser. He declined to elaborate.
Just how the Americans were able to get the information from the source was also unclear. [ME: But rest assured that as soon as someone in the intelligence community leaks it to us, we'll be reporting how the U.S. manages to communicate with its informants.] In an interview, a Jordanian official close to the investigation said the mission that killed Mr. Zarqawi was a joint operation conducted by the Americans and Jordanian intelligence. The source inside Mr. Zarqawi's group, the Jordanian official said, had been cultivated at least in part by Jordanian intelligence
agents. [ME: Translation: if you have been providing intelligence to the U.S. and you are either a Jordanian member of al Qaeda in Iraq or a Zarqawi associate who was ever in Jordan on Zarqawi business, it's time to get out of town.]
"There was a man from Zarqawi's group who handed over the information," the Jordanian official said.
Back in Hibhib, Mr. Ismael [a witness interviewed by the Times and whom the newspaper chose to identify by name for this story] again noticed something strange. Of the three GMC trucks that had pulled up to the house in the date palm grove,
only two stayed. One of them drove away and never came back.
Whether the departing GMC contained the source who tipped off the Americans about Mr. Zarqawi's location is unknown.