Our readers will no doubt call to mind, on this day that seems especially appropriate to survey the ongoing war on terror, how often, and with what righteousness, the U.S. has threatened Iran and Syria for allowing insurgents to use their territory to access Iraq.
The Bush administration has also, lately, been in an upbeat mood about its contribution to the w-w-war on terror, to wit, the legalization of torture, and the extension of executive, judicial and penal power to the CIA. And one has to admit, this contribution almost exactly mirrors the soul of this administration: brutish, small, incompetent, and of a piece with the Dixie totalitarianism that runs, a rich vein, through our history: from the pro-slavery freebooters of the 1850s in Kansas through the lynchers of the 1890s to the segregationists of the 1950s.
Those who, like LI, believe the war on terror is a farce being performed by madmen, with various subject populations in walk on roles, found confirmation for that view in two articles this weekend. One, in the Washington Post, threw in the towel on the “Osama bin is on the run” line that has become a media’s mock Homeric epithet, forged in the fires of press syncophancy and always served piping hot to the hoi polloi who might, by some unwarranted exercise of the mental faculty, wonder where that dead or alive man is today. Dana Priest and Ann Scott Tyson’s article, “Bin Laden Trail Stone Cold,” was notable for one scoop:
“Intelligence officials think that bin Laden is hiding in the northern reaches of the autonomous tribal region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. This calculation is based largely on a lack of activity elsewhere and on other intelligence, including a videotape, obtained exclusively by the CIA and not previously reported, that shows bin Laden walking on a trail toward Pakistan at the end of the battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, when U.S. forces came close but failed to capture him.”
This scoop, by those who keep up with such things, should be combined with the information we already have about what the military did during the battle of Tora Bora and Rumsfeld’s claim, afterwards, reprinted in Philip Smucker’s book, Al Qaeda’s Great Escape, “We have seen repeated speculation about his [bin Laden’s] possible location,” he said, adding that the pieces of information “haven’t been actionable, they haven’t been provable, they haven’t resulted in our ability to track something down and actually do something.” Ah, a spoonful of the Rumsfeldian sugar makes the medicine go down – LI’s little conspiracy theory that Osama was let to escape to provide the Bushies with a terrorist on tap looks better every day.
Our theory combines with another of our theories – that letting Osama escape was premised on the Bushist fantasy that America’s strength, like that of a god, was such that we could always pull in the little rascal. According to Priest and Tyson, in a year in which the President is sore in need of an October surprise, he’s doing his best to get one:
“"The handful of assets we have have given us nothing close to real-time intelligence" that could have led to his capture, said one counterterrorism official, who said the trail, despite the most extensive manhunt in U.S. history, has gone "stone cold."
But in the last three months, following a request from President Bush to "flood the zone," the CIA has sharply increased the number of intelligence officers and assets devoted to the pursuit of bin Laden. The intelligence officers will team with the military's secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and with more resources from the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies.”
The last three months our old rootin’ tootin’ Rebel in Chief suddenly flashed on that outlaw Osama, did he? Imagine that.
Mary Ann Weaver, in a NYT Mag article last year, has a very nice summary of what happened at Tora Bora and concludes thusly:
“On or about Dec. 16, 2001, according to American intelligence estimates, bin Laden left Tora Bora for the last time, accompanied by bodyguards and aides. Other Qaeda leaders dispersed by different routes, but bin Laden and his men are believed to have journeyed on horseback directly south toward Pakistan, crossing through the same mountain passes and over the same little-known smugglers' trails through which the C.I.A.'s convoys passed during the jihad years. And all along the route, in the dozens of villages and towns on both sides of the frontier, the Pashtun tribes would have lighted campfires along the way to guide the horsemen as they slowly continued through the snow and on toward the old Pakistani military outpost of Parachinar.
Tora Bora was the one time after the 9/11 attacks when United States operatives were confident they knew precisely where Osama bin Laden was and could have captured or killed him. Some have argued that it was Washington's last chance; others say that although it will be considerably more difficult now, bin Laden is not beyond our reach. But the stakes are considerably higher than they were nearly four years ago, and terrain and political sensibilities are far more our natural enemies now.
There is no indication that bin Laden ever left Pakistan after he crossed the border that snowy December night; nor is there any indication that he ever left the country's Pashtun tribal lands, moving from Parachinar to Waziristan, then north into Mohmand and Bajaur, one American intelligence official told me. The areas are among the most remote and rugged on earth, and they are vast. Had bin Laden been surrounded at Tora Bora, he would have been confined to an area of several dozen square miles; now he could well be in an area that snakes across some 40,000 square miles.
Defending its decision not to commit forces to the Tora Bora campaign, members of the Bush administration - including the president, the vice president and Gen. Tommy Franks - have continued to insist, as recently as the last presidential campaign, that there was no definitive information that bin Laden was even in Tora Bora in December 2001. "We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora," Franks wrote in an Oct. 19, 2004, Op-Ed article in The New York Times. Intelligence assessments on the Qaeda leader's location varied, Franks continued, and bin Laden was "never within our grasp."
The NYT article that provides a sweet-n-sour chaser to Priest’s obituary for the Osama on the run meme is about Pakistan’s treaty with the Taliban, which might get in the way of flooding the zone – although, being a mere peapicker instead of the Rebel in Chief, I just don’t know.
“On Tuesday, the Pakistani government signed a “truce” with militants who have resisted Pakistani military efforts to gain control of the region, which is roughly the size of Delaware. The agreement, which lets militants remain in the area as long as they promised to halt attacks, immediately set off concern among American analysts.”
I love the concern business. Usually, I don’t know, such a thing would set off condemnation. Our vampiric V.P. would show his fangs on that show he does on Fox, “Cheney Shows His Fangs” – you know, it comes on right before “America’s Funniest Waterboarding Videos.” But here we have the measured responses of the mature republic we are.
“After two attempts to assassinate President Pervez Musharraf in December 2003 were linked to the tribal areas, Pakistani officials expanded the military effort to subdue the region. But after suffering heavy casualties in 2004 and early 2005, they began negotiating with local militants. Last year, Pakistan signed a separate agreement with militants in South Waziristan, but the move failed to slow the killing of government supporters.
“If you look at the number of deaths in the region, it’s not clear that they’ve dropped,” said Xenia Dormandy, former director for South Asia for the National Security Council. Signing such truces, she said, “is a potentially dangerous route to take because there is little pressure that you can bring to bear to make sure they can follow through on the agreements.”
"Two hundred miles to the south, the Taliban leadership is believed to have established a base of operations in and around the Pakistani city of Quetta, according to American analysts. Afghan officials say the Taliban used the area to plan and carry out sweeping attacks in southern Afghanistan in the spring.”
The amazing thing, to LI, is that the fraud of the war on terror is so threadbare. You don’t have to really rise from your reclining chair to connect the dots. We know how it was done, we know who did it, and we know how it goes on, and on, and on. This truly offends me. As the Al Pacino character says in Dog Day Afternoon says:
Kiss me! Kiss Me!
Cause I liked to be kissed when I’m fucked!
My motto for this all too sad day.
“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears
Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann
"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads
"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads