July Surprised

Abraham Epton

At this point, it's no shock to discover that the Bush Administration manipulates current affairs to win domestic political battles. Some analysts say, for example, that the Administration deliberately highballed projections of the budget deficit, so that when the actual numbers were released, they could explain their smaller size as proof that Bush's tax policies were working. Never mind that the shortfall is $50 billion bigger than the biggest deficit in American history (also occurring on Bush's watch); the point is that it could be bigger, and it isn't because taxes were cut!Right.But this White House is about nothing if not raising the bar on absurdity, which it did once again yesterday. Pakistani security forces announced, several hours before John Kerry was due to accept the Democratic nomination for President, that they had captured a "high-value target" (HVT) and top al-Qaeda operative, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, wanted by the US (to the tune of $5 million) for having played a part in the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa.One could be tempted to think it a coincidence that a major al-Qaeda target is captured just as the post-Convention bounce is expected to give John Kerry a boost in the polls. But this article in The New Republic of two weeks ago (which we discussed in our most recent issue) should give one pause. The article's money quote?But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told [Pakistani Lieutenant General Ehsan] ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.The whole article is really worth the read, especially given that we now know it to be, not wild-eyed and conspiratorial in a black helicopter sort of way, but eerily prescient. And of course, it's quite fun to read the now-hilarious skepticism of the right ("the kooky story trumpeted… by the usually more responsible 'progressives' at The New Republic" that is either no news or "so silly as not to be worthy of publishing").

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