Saturday, June 19, 2004

Early Edition

Expect to see this all over the Blogosphere by close-of-business today: "Al-Qaida may 'reward' American president with strike aimed at keeping him in office, senior intelligence man says"

From the Guardian:

A senior US intelligence official is about to publish a bitter condemnation of America's counter-terrorism policy, arguing that the west is losing the war against al-Qaida and that an "avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked" war in Iraq has played into Osama bin Laden's hands.

Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, due out next month, dismisses two of the most frequent boasts of the Bush administration: that Bin Laden and al-Qaida are "on the run" and that the Iraq invasion has made America safer.

In an interview with the Guardian the official, who writes as "Anonymous", described al-Qaida as a much more proficient and focused organisation than it was in 2001, and predicted that it would "inevitably" acquire weapons of mass destruction and try to use them.


Imperial Hubris is the latest in a relentless stream of books attacking the administration in election year. Most of the earlier ones, however, were written by embittered former officials. This one is unprecedented in being the work of a serving official with nearly 20 years experience in counter-terrorism who is still part of the intelligence establishment.

The fact that he has been allowed to publish, albeit anonymously and without naming which agency he works for, may reflect the increasing frustration of senior intelligence officials at the course the administration has taken.


Anonymous, who published an analysis of al-Qaida last year called Through Our Enemies' Eyes, thinks it quite possible that another devastating strike against the US could come during the election campaign, not with the intention of changing the administration, as was the case in the Madrid bombing, but of keeping the same one in place.

"I'm very sure they can't have a better administration for them than the one they have now," he said.

"One way to keep the Republicans in power is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the president."

Hmmm. Given that people in intel have to have their publications vetted by their agencies, and given the timeline for publication and so on... well, Tenet's abrupt resignation is starting to look highly conveeeeenient (for Tenet, that is).

Meanwhile, poor Colin Powell just wants to be Secretary of State:

Colin Powell would be willing to continue serving as secretary of state in a second Bush administration if he were able to take a grip on the direction of US foreign policy, a senior official said on Thursday.

According to conventional wisdom in Washington, even if President George W. Bush (news - web sites) should win a second term in the November election, Mr Powell would take the opportunity to leave office after the frustrations of being overruled on important policy decisions by a White House in the thrall of neo-conservative ideology.


The official, who asked not to be named, said there was a possibility that the influential neo-conservatives were "in complete retreat and turning on themselves" after the setbacks in Iraq, and that there would be a "massive exiting". But he also conceded that they could simply be "hunkered down" and might return.


But analysts also strongly suspect that the president would not want the services of Mr Powell any longer.

Mr Bush, one diplomat said, would feel that he had been vindicated and had a mandate "of the American people and the divine spirit" - to take his unilateralist foreign policy further.

Man, is there anything scarier than the prospect of Bush thinking he has a 'mandate from the divine spirit' to keep on keeping on?


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