Background to Cluelessness
What we’re left with is a presidency less credible than any since Watergate, three wars ( Iraq, Afghanistan, “terror”), and a world more dangerous and a nation less safe than on 9/11. Judging from the polls, which still give Bush a roughly 30 percent approval, there’s still an awful lot of denial going on despite Woodward’s confessions. Meanwhile Osama is still vacationing somewhere in the Hindu Kush. Following Bush’s lead, the rest of us still prefer to demonize him rather than study him. Not so Wright.
When Intelligence Trips Over Its Turfs
Those weren’t needles in haystacks that required leaps of imagination to connect. They were hard evidence the agencies refused to share; not because the law prevented them--that’s a canard--but because turf battles amplified by personality conflicts and a clubbish culture got in the way. Judging from more recent reporting, little has changed. And neither the Patriot Act nor domestic spying gave intelligence and law enforcement tools they didn’t already have to do their job without infringing on civil liberties, as those new laws do.
Bin Laden's "Brigade of the Ridiculous"
What successes they managed were entirely dependent on Osama’s media savvy. None of the fighters, Osama among them, have ever had a clear idea of what they’re fighting for beyond sophomoric ideals about a golden-age caliphate. That caliphate has about as much credibility among Muslims as a return to the Confederate States of America has among Southerners.
Al-Qaeda's Hollow Ideological Core
Have a listen: Here’s how Osama responded when the journalist Peter Arnett asked him what kind of society he would create if he had his way in, say, Saudi Arabia: "We are confident, with the permission of God, praise and glory be upon him, that Muslims will be victorious in the Arabian Peninsula and that God’s religion, praise and glory be to him, will prevail in this peninsula. It is a great pride and a big hope that the revelation unto Mohammed, peace be upon him, will be resorted to for ruling. When we used to follow Mohammed’s revelation, peace be upon him, we were in great happiness and in great dignity, to God belongs the credit and the praise."
That’s Saturday Night Live material, not the sort of thing an Islamic revolution can hang its sword on.