Whacking Dr Khan, Take Two

It is an unspoken rule in journalism that no matter how many times something has been covered, the subject is always deemed newsworthy when covered by a leading member of the mainstream media.

Thus, the article ‘Those Nuclear Flashpoints Are Made in Pakistan’ in yesterday’s Washington Post by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, lamenting the leniency the United States has shown toward the most dangerous nuclear-trafficking operation in history – an operation masterminded by one man, Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Hmm, an operation masterminded by one man. Don’t get us wrong. Here at Nuclear Underground we are the first ones to say how impressive the achievements of Dr Khan have been. Still, as criminal masterminds go, Dr Khan may not be the one most deserving of the title. Let’s just say, having read Arthur Conan Doyle, that he is no Dr Moriarty.

Frantz and Collins write that Indeed, Bush has never seriously squeezed Musharraf over Khan. Perhaps he only unseriously squeezed Musharraf. While we don’t count ourselves among the defenders of the Bush administration, what other choice did Bush have? Anybody who has ever read the Pakistani press knows that Dr Khan is an untouchable. And I’m not talking about some Indian Dalit caste member.

However, when one scrolls down to the bottom of the article one sees the real reason for the Post article; namely to provide an opportunity to flog the forthcoming book by the husband and wife team of Frantz and Collins, The Nuclear Jihadist: The True Story of the Man Who Sold the World’s Most Dangerous Secrets… And How We Could Have Stopped Him.

Here is what the Publisher’s Weekly blurb on the Amazon listing says:

While much of this story is familiar, Frantz and Collins do provide more detail on Khan’s background and draw on several different US sources. (They reveal, for example, that the State Department discussed assassinating Khan as far back as 1978.) They also give the Pakistani government more benefit of the doubt than most other commentators: an internal corruption investigation ordered by Pervez Musharraf shortly after he became Pakistan’s president is interpreted as suggesting that Khan’s dealing with nations like Libya and Iran might not have been sanctioned by his government. [The recent book] Deception has more about Pakistan’s internal politics and an edge in readability and zing, but this is an equally serviceable overview.

The assassination part is mildly interesting. Supposedly, as I noted back in September, Israel’s Mossad had thought of taking him out too. But that would not have been until the early 1990s, at least twelve years later. So, at least for once, the United States was thinking proactively. I look forward to reading the book and find out just whose brainstorm that was.

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