We could see it coming, but now it’s coming from the White House.
WASHINGTON, July 17 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬? President BushÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged Tuesday that the strategy for fighting Osama bin LadenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan had failed, as the White House released a grim new intelligence assessment that has forced the administration to consider more aggressive measures inside Pakistan.
The intelligence report, the most formal assessment since the Sept. 11 attacks about the terrorist threat facing the United States, concludes that the United States is losing ground on a number of fronts in the fight against Al Qaeda, and describes the terrorist organization as having significantly strengthened over the past two years.
In identifying the main reasons for Al QaedaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s resurgence, intelligence officials and White House aides pointed the finger squarely at a hands-off approach toward the tribal areas by PakistanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who last year brokered a cease-fire with tribal leaders in an effort to drain support for Islamic extremism in the region.
And we’ve sat by and let Musharraf give safe haven to al-Qaeda, and most likely Bin Laden.
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush has been able to deflect criticism of his counterterrorism policy by repeatedly noting the absence of any new domestic attacks and by citing the continuing threat that terrorists in Iraq pose to U.S. interests.
But this line of defense seemed to unravel a bit yesterday with the release of a new National Intelligence Estimate that concludes that al-Qaeda “has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability” by reestablishing a haven in Pakistan and reconstituting its top leadership. The report also notes that al-Qaeda has been able “to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks,” by associating itself with an Iraqi subsidiary.
The question then becomes are we less safe than pre 9/11?