Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Put enough money into a government program and they can put a man on the Moon. In a world of scarcity, however, the truism is irrelevant. Put enough money into a government program and can they keep us safe and secure?-- a responsibility that they are actually charged with in the U.S. Constitution.

Intelligence agencies consume a lot of money (actual amounts unknown) and they often fail miserably. Perhaps worse than the Iraq WMD failure by all of the Western intelligence agencies was their inability to detect 15 years of nuclear secrets sales by Pakistan's Abdul Qadeer Khan. Yesterday's WSJ featured an op-ed by Bernard-Henri Levy whose best-seller in France, "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" seems to have been closer to reality than anything else. Levy argued that Pearl was murdered because he was on the trail of the Pakistani clandestine nuclear secrets sales. The Khan confession (and his strange public pardon by Pres. Musharraf) gives Levy's version some substantial corroboration.

One free-lancer upends armies of professional spooks. Is anyone surprised?

On the positive side, only in open societies can we expect to get even one man who gets it right.