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August 24, 2006

Six Questions For Michael Scheuer On National Security

Ken Silverstein of Harper's recent spoke to Michael Scheuer, chief of the bin Laden unit at the CIA's Counterterrorist Center from 1996-99. The interview took place at an International House of Pancakes:

1. We're coming up on the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Is the country safer or more vulnerable to terrorism?

On balance, more vulnerable. We're safer in terms of aircraft travel. We're safer from being attacked by some dumbhead who tries to come into the country through an official checkpoint; we've spent billions on that. But for the most part our victories have been tactical and not strategic...

In the long run, we're not safer because we're still operating on the assumption that we're hated because of our freedoms, when in fact we're hated because of our actions in the Islamic world. There's our military presence in Islamic countries, the perception that we control the Muslim world’s oil production, our support for Israel and for countries that oppress Muslims such as China, Russia, and India, and our own support for Arab tyrannies.

The rest.

This reminds me of a crazy fantasy I have. In this fantasy, a White House reporter stands up at a press conference and asks Bush the most mindbogglingly obvious question imaginable:

Mr. President, the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit has referred to U.S foreign policy as bin Laden's indispensable ally. I'm sure you don't agree with this characterization, but could you explain for us your understanding of why he says that?

Of course, I know it's literally impossible for White House reporters to ask the President of the United States mindbogglingly obvious questions. It's like wanting them to travel faster than the speed of light. Still, I dream my dreamy dreams.

Posted at August 24, 2006 07:59 AM | TrackBack

abb1, I saw that. Notice the language he uses: "nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ORDERED the attack." He still leaves it open that they suggested that Saddam aided or supported in some way the attacks, which they did!

Also, I would like to see the follow up by Ken:
"But at no point was Iraq a threat to the US. So, how are we 'taking the threads before they materialize' if we go after the wrong target?"

I guess I am as much of a dreamer as Jonathan.

Posted by: Dimitria at August 24, 2006 10:54 AM

Logic is so passé.

You just have to have faith.

Posted by: JustZisGuy at August 24, 2006 11:27 AM

What is so obvious is that there is a mutual friendship between bin Laden and Bush. Bin Laden single handedly reelected Bush and Bush did his utmost to help bin Laden. They have both been indispensable to each other. And when you think about it the best and easiest way to destroy America was to ensure Bush was reelected.

Posted by: rob payne at August 24, 2006 01:31 PM

Countries that oppress Muslims such as India? Uh, what? If that's going to be our criteria for what counts as oppression, I'm not really sure where to stop. I agree with his main point, but that's a very broad brush.

Posted by: Saheli at August 24, 2006 04:18 PM

George is a politican, he will say anything, tell you any lie. Lies involve NO reason, no commonsense. Ken's question asked for commomsense and the truth. George,s lie wandered off to nowhere as all lies do. WE have NO recourse, he NEEDS no remedy. (call your Senator or Congressman, see how their answers to your questions jive)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 24, 2006 06:54 PM

I think you should interview Thomas Friedman in an IHOP, Jonathan. Let us know if he sings the praises of globalization and stiffs the waitress.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at August 24, 2006 08:43 PM

Sheuer still pushes the excuse that Fearless Leader was sold a 'bill of goods' by George Tenet and since he was told lies, that makes passing them on completely excusable. Make no mistake that the CIA is not the gang of bumbling idiots these Bushanistas are making them out to be. Big Daddy Bush will always be in charge and he runs a very tight ship!

Posted by: JLaR at August 25, 2006 12:58 AM

Jon, when Eric gets back to the briefing room I'll ask him to put the question to Tony. He's never had an opportunity to ask Bush anything, but there's a first time for some things.

Posted by: weldon berger at August 25, 2006 02:26 AM

They don't ask because the answer is also mindbogglingly obvious: "He says that because because he doesn't understand the world we live in".

Posted by: Steve at August 25, 2006 10:49 AM