Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"Fighting" The War on Terror

Somehow I missed in yesterday's WPost:
One of the most senior intelligence officers in the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit said yesterday that fewer experienced officers are assigned to defeating the al Qaeda leader and his followers now than there were on Sept. 11, 2001.

Michael Scheuer, the author of a best-selling book critical of the agency's fight against terrorism, said that even though the number of officers assigned to the task has increased substantially, "the level of experienced officers is a little less since September 11."

More than 50 percent of those working on terrorism and against bin Laden are assigned to the job temporarily, for 30 to 90 days at a time, he said. "Sometimes more is just more," said Scheuer, whose superiors have forbidden him to speak to the media.

Some of the most experienced officers have been assigned to Iraq, or sent to the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security's new terrorist threat information center, the 22-year career officer said. As a result, he said, the CIA "has diluted the pool that supports our people overseas," and because of that, "in the long term, we're less safe than we should be."
This story is obviously about more than the number of Al Qaeda analysts. There is deep anger and resentment inside the intelligence community for the way the Bush Administration scapegoated them for both 9/11 and the pre-Iraq invasion intelligence. There is ample evidence that intelligence analysts did their job and warned their bosses, but Bush and his cronies chose to ignore those warnings - especially in Iraq where it is clear that we were going in there no matter what.

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