Note that the Pakistani government had never before revealed Khan’s name. It had never been mentioned in any Pakistani newspaper or any Pakistani news conference. Since Khan had been turned, he was perhaps the most valuable asset inside al-Qaeda Pakistani intelligence ever had.

Why would this Pakistani official now tell Rohde the name, if that is what happened? We cannot know, of course. It is possible that he believed that Ridge had given the show away anyway. That is, al-Qaeda members on hearing the details Ridge revealed to the American public would know that a real insider had been busted, and would inevitably become so cautious that the Khan sting operation might well have been fatally compromised. We know that after the Ridge announcement, the level of “chatter” among radical Islamists fell off dramatically.

The Bush administration at the very least bears indirect responsibility for the outing of Khan. Without the Ridge announcement, reporters would have had no incentive to seek out the name of the source of the information.~ Juan Cole

Apparently, the initial reports that Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan’s name had been given to the press on background by the White House were not necessarily accurate. Nonetheless, as Prof. Cole explains in the article, the chain of events leading to the leak of the name–which has had such terribly negative effects on antiterrorist efforts, when Khan’s defection from al-Qaeda became public knowledge–began with the administration’s insistence on providing highly specific details of the (old) plot uncovered after the arrest of Khan in Pakistan.

I still maintain that the administration’s shoddy credibility has forced it to use sensitive information to bolster its sagging image as a counter-terrorist administration, and that this ultimately resulted in the demonstrable weakening of the antiterrorist campaign. It would be outrageous for such an administration to claim to be a capable or worthy opponent of al-Qaeda after this huge mistake. No sensible Republican with an interest in national security can pretend that this failure is anything but an administration fumble of the highest order. Their relative silence about this is indicative of how craven and subservient to the President most Republicans and all of their elected officials have become.