Thursday, March 01, 2007

Who Is Leading Al Queda and One Other Troubling Bit Of Imformation From The Whitehouse

If I were to ask you the question, "Who is leading Al Queda," what answer would you come up with?

Let me guess: Would it be "I don't know?"

Well, it is for Tony the Snow job. Have a look:
Q Tony, yesterday the President's new Director of National Intelligence testified on Capitol Hill for the first time, and said, U.S. intelligence believes that Osama bin Laden and his number two are alive in Pakistan and reestablishing training camps. If you really have bin Laden on the run, how is he reestablishing training camps?

MR. SNOW: Well, that's a question -- that's an intelligence matter that I'm not going to be able to go into.

Q But how can you continually say the leadership is on the run and --

MR. SNOW: Well, you take a look also at statements that have been made by generals in recent days -- General Schoomaker the other day had a comment that I was asked about, which is he thought bin Laden had been marginalized. The question is whether al Qaeda -- I think the bin Laden question may be separable from the al Qaeda question. It's clear that al Qaeda is trying to gain strength --

Q But isn't he the leader of al Qaeda?

MR. SNOW: Well, I don't know. It's a real question about who assumes operational command. One of the things we've found is that the command structure has been degraded significantly and that remains the case. But in terms of trying to characterize precisely how the command structure looks or how it operates, it would be inappropriate to comment from the podium. But certainly, if you take a look, over and over you've had key members taken out, and also reports in the press that the leadership had become much more decentralized, as had the activities of al Qaeda. Indeed, you had the correspondence between Ayman al Zawahiri and Abu Musab al Zarqawi where you had Zawahiri basically asking for money from Zarqawi, when he was head, and also begging him -- it looked as it al Qaeda in Iraq in some cases at least had some leverage over al Qaeda leadership, wherever it was hiding.
I'm not on the ground in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iraq, so I don't have the intel to figure this one out, but this line of query is disturbing for two reasons: 1) I thought the President had a warrant out for OBL - Dead or Alive, and 2) Al Queda is getting stronger not weaker in Pakistan, who is supposed to be one primary member of the W, Rove and Co.'s coalition of the willing.

But wait, there's another distrubing report, particularly in light of the push to surge new troops into harms way in Iraq:

Q There was also a report this morning that two Army combat brigades are being sent to Iraq without desert training -- the Associated Press has a story out today -- and that it's because they're being rushed to Iraq to help get the surge in place.

MR. SNOW: Again, let me stress, what happens is, a lot of times you will also do training in theaters, as well as equipping in theater. The generals have made it very clear, and military commanders have made it clear, nobody is going to go into combat activity without proper equipment and training. Period. So if things --

Q But the story flatly says that two brigades are going in without desert training in California. So that doesn't sound like --

MR. SNOW: All right, I understand.

Q -- they're getting the training.

MR. SNOW: Well, but they can get desert training elsewhere, like in Iraq.
Oh, and not to mention, there are troops still in need of armour to support their opperations in Iraq. So, does this sound like a solid military strategy to you?

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