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U.S. News and Commentary



Friday
Feb082013

Expert on al Qaeda: Brennan misleads Americans on “Islamist threat”

Former head of the bin Laden unit for the CIA, Michael Scheuer wrote the definitive biography on the terrorist mastermind. (Photo: Book Cover, Non-Intervention website)If Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush had followed Michael Scheuer’s recommendations, Sept. 11, 2001 might have been just another sunny day in the U.S.

Neither president paid heed to the head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, and 11 opportunities to kill Osama bin Laden were denied.

A case might be made that Bush 43’s decision must be viewed in the context of Clinton’s policy, in my opinion. After all, Bush 43 did not get a cooperative transition after the controversy in the 2000 election. Had Bush 43 broken Clinton’s policy, the Left would have been apoplectic. Our own politics and media helped obstruct what would have been a justified killing.

Now Scheuer is rekindling previous issues because he believes that if Brennan takes over the CIA, he “would serve his own interests, not America’s.”

Scheuer made his case in an article at his site Non-Intervention.

One recommendation the national security expert suggests is comparing maps of al Qaeda’s distribution in September, 2001 with 2013. Scheuer said [boldface added]:

The one for 2001 will show al-Qaeda and its allies overwhelmingly domiciled in their Afghanistan stronghold, along with a scattering of small cells around the world. The map for 2013, on the other hand, will show al-Qaeda and other Islamists still active in Afghanistan, but also has having established other large enclaves—where training, arms caches, and operational planning can be easily accommodated—in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Palestine, across North Africa, Nigeria, and, as noted above, in northern Mali...the post-9/11 al-Qaeda-Islamist movement has grown significantly in numbers and geographical reach, Mr. Brennan might reasonably be asked to explain why he, as well as the Clinton, Bush, and Osama administrations he served, have invariably misled Americans by asserting that the Islamist threat is receding."

As I watched parts of the testimony Brennan gave to senators on Thursday, I was reminded of something former CIA director George Tenet wrote in his book At the Center of the Storm. Brennan was Tenet’s chief of staff from 2000-2001.

Tenet recalled that bin Laden had been indicted in June, 1998, “on charges of plotting to murder U.S. soldiers in Yemen six years earlier. Five months later, he was indicted again, this time in the East African embassy bombings.” At that point, bin Laden, said Tenet, “was living comfortably in his Afghan sanctuary.” [108-109] Besides that, Americans knew bin Laden wanted to attack the U.S. because the al Qaeda mastermind had told the world he was at war with us during a television interview.

Enter Clinton’s attorney general Janet Reno who, said Tenet, declared that “she would view an attempt simply to kill bin Laden as illegal.”

Reno's position is part of a tragedy of epic proportions indicating the importance of selecting an attorney general not driven by political ideology.

Scheuer makes a very good case for Brennan’s rejection. Whether politics will override such criticisms is unknown, but I don’t believe it’s likely.

Thus, the man who refuses to call those who want to kill us “Islamists” and the man who failed to obtain even minimal cooperation from the Saudis at a time when bin Laden might have been stopped or marginalized will once again be in a key position as we “confront an Islamist enemy that is larger, better armed, smarter and far more geographically dispersed than ever before.”

Media cannot be relied upon now to cast aside politics for truth.

As The 9/11 Commission Report stated, “a New York Times article in April 1999 sought to debunk claims that Bin Ladin was a terrorist leader, with the headline ‘U.S. Hard Put to Find Proof Bin Laden Directed Attacks.’ [343]”

Bin Laden, a foreign combatant,  had already been charged with war crimes against us. He had publicly declared war against us. His kill would have been righteous.

Brennan was part of the circle that prohibited it.

Scheuer’s column is a must-read for anyone who wants to cut through the politics and get to the meat of the matter, and it is a warning we should heed in these troubled times. He wrote that his unit “provided the Clinton, Bush, and Osama administrations with at least 12 chances (May-1998-May, 2011) to capture or kill bin Laden—only the 12th of which was taken.”

The U.S. finally killed bin Laden, but the decision at that point was political rather than having a basis in national security. Why did we wait? Bin Laden had been charged with crimes against our country and he had publicly declared war against us. If ever there was a righteous kill, this would be an example.

Scheuer wrote about a young woman he hired when he was at the CIA, saying she performed brilliantly. She was killed by al Qaeda in Afghanistan. She left three children behind after years spent:

“…still trying to find Osama bin Laden after all the other chances she helped deliver to U.S. presidents were ignored. Those three children, as well as the mothers, children, wives, parents, husbands, and fathers of those intelligence officers and military personnel who have been killed and maimed in the war against al-Qaeda and Islamism deserve to hear Mr. Brennan explain those of his actions that helped keep bin Laden alive to kill so many Americans, as well as why he and his political masters have consistently lied to all Americans about the threat they face from the growing Islamist movement.”

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Feb. 8, 2013)

[Ed. note: Media and the government have varied the spelling of Osama bin Laden's name. In direct quotes, we have adhered to the way the name was spelled in the source document.]

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