If you were wondering which poorly-named metaphor takes precedence when the government’s bumbling war on drugs butts up against its bumbling war on terrorism, here’s your answer.
American authorities sent David C. Headley, a small-time drug dealer and sometime informant, to work for them in Pakistan months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, despite a warning that he sympathized with radical Islamic groups, according to court records and interviews. Not long after Mr. Headley arrived there, he began training with terrorists, eventually playing a key role in the 2008 attacks that left 164 people dead in Mumbai.
The October 2001 warning was dismissed, the authorities said, as the ire of a jilted girlfriend and for lack of proof. Less than a month later, those concerns did not come up when a federal court in New York granted Mr. Headley an early release from probation so that he could be sent to work for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in Pakistan. It is unclear what Mr. Headley was supposed to do in Pakistan for the Americans.
“All I knew was the D.E.A. wanted him in Pakistan as fast as possible because they said they were close to making some big cases,” said Luis Caso, Mr. Headley’s former probation officer.
On Sunday, while President Obama was visiting India, he briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the status of his administration’s investigation of Mr. Headley, including the failure to act on repeated warnings that he might be a terrorist. A senior United States official said the inquiry has concluded that while the government received warnings, it did not have strong enough evidence at the time to act on them.
I’m sure Headley’s potential helpfulness to the DEA had nothing at all to do with how seriously the government took those tips that he was a possible terrorist. It’s not like the feds have ever sacrificed fighting terrorism for fighting drugs in the past.