Con Coughlin at the UK's conservative Daily Telegraph newsrag - a hack so far up the neocon's collective orifice that when N-Pod brushes his teeth Coughlin smells peppermint - is being used to send a not-very-subtle message to General Musharraf.
It is never a clever idea to upset the world's leading superpower, particularly when you are supposed to be a key ally fighting a common enemy...No one is suggesting that the Asian desk at the CIA is working overtime studying the Pakistani military's presidential flight schedules.Is he serious? Hell no. But watch the meme - it's designed to provoke the rumor that Bush is talking tough behind the scenes while he's saying bugger all at front-of-stage.
But, by the same token, General Musharraf should be under no illusion about the anger he has provoked within the Bush Administration over his decision to impose martial law and round up hundreds of political activists.
...Gen Musharraf might be forgiven for thinking he was outwitted his American paymasters. But however much Washington needs the general as an ally to defeat the Islamist menace, he might still be well-advised to think twice before boarding his next flight.
And if by chance some ambitious Pakistani general should think it's a good idea and take the hint? Well, that will punt the ball down the road to a new dictator who can be a new "key ally in the War on Terror", promising afresh to ensure a return to democracy...eventually.