As the CIA grieves and vows revenge for the killing of seven officers and one Jordanian intelligence officer in Afghanistan, revelations that the bomber was a double-agent for al-Qaeda have raised disturbing questions. How did the informant, reportedly a doctor named Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, win the CIA's trust, and what can be learned from the tragic mistake?
- CIA Relied in Jordanian Intel, suggests a report from the Wall Street Journal. After noting that "the U.S. and Jordanian intelligence services have worked closely together for years," the article quotes an intelligence official who says "There's a confidence level with them ... This is someone they obviously trusted very, very much."
- Maybe the Jordanian Officer Was Complicit suggests Carl at Israel Matzav. He quotes extensively from an AP account that says a "big unanswered question" is why eight people were present at the bomber's debriefing. Carl speculates: "We will likely never know why this guy wasn't searched and why so many people were present at that meeting. And no one will ever raise the possibility that the other Jordanian was in on it. But I will. Think about it."
- Bomber Won Confidence With Useful Intelligence, report Joby Warrick and Peter Finn in the Washington Post. The reporters say that al-Balawi's "track record as an informant apparently allowed him to enter a key CIA post without a thorough search," and that he arranged the deadly meeting on the pretense of offering new information.
- A Mistake, Pure and Simple, suggest Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball at Newsweek. The two writers report that al-Balawi seems to have been a prominent al-Qaeda blogger, as well as a contributer to the Taliban magazine. They then quote other CIA officials who find it "puzzling" that al-Balawi was trusted, and the president of a Washington think-tank who calls the attack "something that is unprecedented...This is the first time a terrorist has managed to infiltrate the CIA and carry out an attack."
- Tried and True Method, Undermined by Growing al-Qaeda Sophistication, writes Greg Miller in the Los Angeles Times. He interprets the attack as showing "a new level of sophistication in Al Qaeda's efforts to retaliate against the agency" for its Predator drone strikes. Miller quotes an official who says of the CIA's trust in al-Balawi,"That's how you do these operations -- you find people who can conceivably penetrate terrorist organizations, try to turn them and run them."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.