The mother of all intelligence failures

While both the US and UK are debating on the veracity and accuracy of the intelligence they used to justify going to war in Iraq, what surprises me is that absolutely no one considers missing out on what IAEA’s ElBaradei called the ‘nuclear Wal-Mart’ as the mother of all intelligence failures.

It involved Pakistani nuclear technology, parts from countries as widely strewn as Germany and Malaysia, financing and logistics from Dubai, and customers from Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea. If the intelligence services of US and UK missed this it surely was the biggest intelligence failure of the century; unless of course they were intentionally closing one eye when looking at the Nuclear Wal-Mart. Indeed, it is difficult to believe that an operation run on so wide a scale and for so long could have gone entirely unnoticed by the spooks. However it may be that the politicians chose to sweep this under the carpet for their own reasons. So when Colonel Qaddafi came clean and publicly fingered Pakistan, these selfsame protectors of international security had no choice but to finally confront Musharraf.

When are we going to have an open debate on this issue ? When was the earliest the United States knew that not only did Pakistan have a covert nuclear programme (that was an open secret even in Reagan’s time) but also have an active proliferation programme? And why did’nt the United States do anything to stop it? Of course these are unpopular questions, but surely those who coddled the Pakistani regimes in the past must be held accountable some time.