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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Scheuer thing

In an interview that aired last night, Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, told Australian news show Four Corners that the US passed up numerous attempts to kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

According to the Australian newspaper The Age, Scheuer, who resigned from the CIA in 2004, told Four Corners that "during 2002, the Bush Administration received detailed intelligence about Zarqawi's training camp in Iraqi Kurdistan."

Mr Scheuer claims that a July 2002 plan to destroy the camp lapsed because "it was more important not to give the Europeans the impression we were gunslingers".

"Mr Bush had Zarqawi in his sights almost every day for a year before the invasion of Iraq and he didn't shoot because they were wining and dining the French in an effort to get them to assist us in the invasion of Iraq," he told Four Corners.

"Almost every day we sent a package to the White House that had overhead imagery of the house he was staying in. It was a terrorist training camp . . . experimenting with ricin and anthrax . . . any collateral damage there would have been terrorists."

Well, at least the whole "let's not give the Europeans the impression that we're gunslingers" thing worked out.

I'm still resistant to Bush Derangement Syndrome - although the newer strains are growing tougher to fight off - but seriously, the criminal negligence and sheer ineptitude of this administration is becoming mindboggling. Because what they did here was purposefully let Zarqawi live to fight another day (well, several more years and counting, actually), even though they were making plans to send American troops into an area where he would be instrumental in organizing and fighting against them. And they can't say that they didn't realize that Zarqawi would play a lead role, because this was the same time period when they were highlighting the close ties between Saddam and al Qaeda to anyone that would listen.

So in effect, the Bush administration decided that "wining and dining the French" was more important than minimizing as much as possible the potential dangers that would face the Americans they were about to send in harm's way.

This may not fit any technical, legal, or constitutional definition of treason, but it sure fits mine.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan, who rhetoric seems less and less overheated every day.)

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