'The Search For Osama'
July 30, 2003 11:59 AM   Subscribe

'The Search For Osama'. A long, well-researched article in the 'New Yorker' about the ongoing global manhunt for the leader of al Qaeda and the architect of the September 11 attacks.
posted by eyebeam (5 comments total)
Clarke said that he and other top national-security officials at the White House went to see Clinton to warn him that he would likely be accused of “wagging the dog” in order to distract the public from his political embarrassment. Clinton was enraged. “Don’t you fucking tell me about my political problems, or my personal problems,” Clinton said, according to Clarke. “You tell me about national security. Is it the right thing to do?” Clarke thought it was. “Then fucking do it,” Clinton told him.

Reading the article, it seems like so many people in the intelligence and military communities are more interested in avoiding blame and taking credit then making the hard decisions and doing what needs to be done. Ironically, it was President Clinton that ignored politics to make the right call. What if bin Laden had been killed that day?
posted by euphorb at 1:09 PM on July 30, 2003

Great article, eyebeam. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 1:15 PM on July 30, 2003

Did war compromise al-Qaida hunt?

       AS “Operation Enduring Freedom” kept al-Qaida on the run, the White House was already planning for war against Iraq. Sources say that in the spring of 2002, key weapons in the war against terror — such as the commandos, the drones and the high-tech surveillance planes — were rotated out of Afghanistan. Now experts tell NBC there was a clear tradeoff as the United States let up on al-Qaida to pursue regime change in Iraq.
       A former national security official in the Bush administration tells NBC News Senior Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers the White House was warned that the buildup against Saddam might provide a respite for Osama bin Laden and his henchmen. “There were decisions made,” says Flynt Leverett, a former director at the National Security Council in the Bush White House, “to take key assets, human assets, technical assets, out of theater in Afghanistan in order to position them for the campaign to unseat Saddam.”
       Leverett, a former senior CIA analyst, talks with the professorial precision of an academic. “We see today,” he says, “that al-Qaida has been able to reconstitute leadership cells in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and it would seem in Eastern Iran.”

posted by homunculus at 1:29 PM on July 30, 2003

The article draws a very good comparison between the political battles we face when negotiating with extreme paramilitary countries such as Pakistan and the internal political hurdles facing americans over intelligence and military actions.

My image of the military decision making process is mostly based on recent news and movies. What is going on if intelligence agencies make decisions based not on strategic but on political objectives. This is a new era post 9-11. This is evident with an early Clinton-era efforts against Al Qaeda, suggest submarine attacks to avoid detection by military groups loyal to the Taliban and instead the Pentagon sends battle ships...

“We asked them not to use surface ships. We asked them to use subs, so they wouldn’t signal the attack. But not only did they use surface ships—they brought additional ones in, because every captain wants to be able to say he fired the cruise missile.”

Maybe Al Qaued and bin Laden can survive. The larger question is what is the consequence. Clearly he is on the run and underground. The political structures forged from his Taliban days are sufficient for contained recruitment. This is not a political organization. Bin Laden is asking his enemies to convert to Islam or die not vote for him to reform income taxation. On the basis of that agenda, even his death will be a weapon against freedom.
posted by xtian at 5:12 PM on July 30, 2003

I'm surprised this thread didn't get more comments. Maybe it's an indication of just how successful the Bush administration has been in turning our attention away from Afghanistan and on to Iraq.
posted by orange swan at 7:39 AM on July 31, 2003

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