Spenser Ackerman ought to be fired for spectacular intellectual dishonesty, unless I'm misreading the tone of that lame rowback, and it's actually one of his co-authors who wrote the linked followup. Their "July Surprise" was supposed to be a top-three al-Queda arrest. A minor regional figure like Ghalani does *not* count.
This is the moral equivalent of predicting a major earthquake in Tokyo on a specific week, and then claiming any earthquake in the north-eastern Pacific Rim as vindication. Firstly, the magnitude isn't comparable - you predicted a major earthquake, or a major-league al Queda capture - this is a "moving the goalposts" violation. Secondly, the area selected is highly biased towards producing such a similar event on any randomly chosen period of the same length. Earthquakes are always, always occurring all along the Pacific Rim, on a daily basis, let alone weekly. al Queda captures occur on a monthly basis, often on a weekly basis, especially in Pakistan, which is rife with al Queda and al Queda-affiliated radical groupings. This is a selection bias error.
Fire Ackerman, and give Judis an early job review. Otherwise, don't expect me to pay attention to the New Republic on foreign policy matters. TNR is supposed to be a hawkish left-wing magazine. Prove it! Fire Ackerman!