Soft on terrorism

The editors of the Washington Post, after three years of steady Bush-boosting, seem to be a little bit perturbed:

The attempt by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to whitewash his country’s marketing of nuclear weapons technology to rogue dictatorships and sponsors of terrorism comes as no surprise. The general and his government have been lying for years about the illegal traffic. Now that their cover has been blown by evidence supplied to the United Nations by Libya and Iran, they are attempting to pin all the blame on a single scientist while stonewalling any international investigation. On Wednesday Abdul Qadeer Khan, the chief designer of Pakistan’s atomic weapons, confessed on television to selling his work through an international black market and claimed he acted alone — contradicting his previous implication of Mr. Musharraf and other top generals. Yesterday Mr. Musharraf duly pardoned him, called him a hero and declared that Pakistan would not supply documentation to the International Atomic Energy Agency or admit its investigators.

Such belligerence could be expected from a military ruler. What’s hard to believe is the Bush administration’s reaction to it. Rather than moving to impose sanctions on Pakistan — action that might be expected for a government that has been caught providing the technology for nuclear weapons to such countries as Iran, Libya and North Korea — it has swallowed his coverup and even congratulated him on it.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Khan is being allowed to keep the millions he made selling nuclear technology to maniacs.

Greg Palast reports that the administration had deliberately prevented an investigation of Khan’s activities two years ago, to protect the Saudi sources of the money he was receiving.

Think about this the next time the President’s supporters tell you that it’s his opponents who don’t take the threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction seriously.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: