Thursday, February 22, 2007
Bush and Al Qaeda - International Herald Tribune:
Recent descriptions by intelligence officials of Al Qaeda's renewed control of terrorist networks and training camps in the tribal areas of Pakistan contrast with previous administration depictions of isolated leaders reduced to acting as little more than a source of ideological inspiration. The new picture seems to belie the triumphalist tone of President George W. Bush, who said a few days before last November's congressional elections, 'Al Qaeda is on the run.'
Which is it, then, a hounded, faltering Al Qaeda or an enemy that has regrouped and become a greater threat than ever? The answer is crucial not only for national security but for America's open society.
An obvious part of the answer is that Bush has played politics with the Qaeda threat. When it suits his needs, he inflates the stateless band of Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri into an existential threat. At other times, Bush boasts about routing bin Laden, passing over in silence his administration's failure to send enough U.S. forces to capture him the caves of Tora Bora five years ago.