Ah, strategic myopia. Yesterday, Ted Gistaro, a top intelligence analyst, gave a speech to the Washington Institute about Al Qaeda’s intent and capability to
Ah, strategic myopia. Yesterday, Ted Gistaro, a top intelligence analyst, gave a speech to the Washington Institute about Al Qaeda’s intent and capability to attack us at home. Here’s what’s been going on with the people who murdered 3000 Americans in 2001 while we’ve been debating about how well everything’s been going in Iraq:
First, Al Qaeda has strengthened its safe haven in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) by deepening its alliances with Pakistani militants and pushing many elements of Pakistani government authority from the area. It now has many of the operational and organizational advantages it once enjoyed across the border in Afghanistan, albeit on a smaller and less secure scale.
Second, despite some significant losses, Al Qaeda has replenished its bench of skilled mid-level lieutenants capable of directing its global operations. These losses collectively represent the most serious blow to Al Qaeda’s leadership since 2005.
While it sometimes can take several months to replace these individuals, Al Qaeda has developed succession plans, can reshuffle leadership responsibilities, and promote younger commanders with years of battlefield experience to senior positions. The leaders’ collocation in the FATA allows them to manage the organization collaboratively, helping facilitate the replacement of key figures.
Put aside for a second the contradiction between dealing "the most serious blow to Al Qaeda’s leadership since 2005" and… that blow being shaken off like dirt from Jay-Z’s shoulders. (Guess that we didn’t really deal Al Qaeda such a setback in 2005.) Al Qaeda is basically unmolested in the FATA, getting stronger, and preparing to attack. We see this right before our eyes. There isn’t going to be any 9/11 Commission moment after the next attack in which the next Condoleezza Rice will plead with moistened eyes that no one could have anticipated using planes as missiles or the intelligence community didn’t give specific-enough threat warnings. Instead, the legacy on display amid the smoldering ashes of the next World Trade Center will be that of diverting U.S. military, intelligence, economic and diplomatic resources to quagmires of choice instead of decimating an actually existing threat. Oh, and demagoguing a threat that the demagogues had neither the capability nor the wisdom to destroy.
The good news? At the end of Gistaro’s remarks, he mentions the theological disputes that former members/sympathizers of Al Qaeda have recently put forward against the murderers, as Peter Bergen, Paul Cruickshank and Lawrence Wright have documented:
Over the past year, some hardline religious leaders and extremists who once had significant influence with Al Qaeda have publicly criticized it, including Sayyid Imam Abd al-Aziz al- Sharif, a jailed Egyptian terrorist who once saved bin Laden’s life, and Saudi cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, whom bin Laden credits as a leading ideological influence.
Al Qaeda senior leaders in 2008 have devoted nearly half their airtime to defending the group’s legitimacy. This defensive tone continues a trend observed since at least last summer and reflects concern over allegations by militant leaders and religious scholars that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have violated the Islamic laws of war, particularly in Iraq and North Africa.
By putting that at the end of the speech, Gistaro seems to denigrate its importance, though.
Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!
The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the
Rep. Paulsen allies with medical device industry to relax FDA oversight
Source: Flickr; Republicanconference (www.flickr.com/photos/republicanconference) On the heels of the Minnesota Independent story last week about U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s cozy financial relationship with the medical device industry, the New York Times reported Tuesday that some health professionals are alarmed by Paulsen’s push to relax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight
Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.)
One of the most conservative Democrats in the House -- a freshman who said he couldn’t support Nancy Pelosi again -- is going to switch over to the GOP. Josh
Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment
In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep
Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’
Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday
Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response
Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen
Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs
Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability
Rep. Perlmutter to hold constituent meet-up in grocery store
Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter will hold a Government in the Grocery constituent meet-up this evening from 5-7 at the Safeway at 38th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. The address is 3900 Wadsworth. The meeting, where Perlmutter typically sits at a folding table and talks to whomever shows up, is free and open to the public
Rep. Peace, ACLU seek investigation of soldier’s allegations of racial discrimination in Afghanistan
Both Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and the American Civil Liberties Union agree: There needs to be an investigation into Spc.
School of Hock
A growing number of college grads are defaulting on their student loans as the economy worsens.