Speaking of the CIA

Last week, the Washington Times op-ed section ran this piece by former CIA official Michael Scheuer. Scheuer’s piece included the following statement:

America’s bipartisan leaders fail to accept that we are at war with militant Islamists terrorists — if you prefer, because of our policies in the Muslim world — not because of what we think or believe. Willful blindness on this score ensures our defeat by the growing number of young Muslims rallying to al Qaedaism. The equation is immutable: Fail to know your enemy and you always lose.

I’m surprised that the Times’ editors didn’t ask Scheuer (1) to include evidence for his central claim that we are at war with Islamist terrorists because of our policies, not because of who we are (2) to identify the policies he thinks are causing our war with these terrorists, (3) to state whether we should change these policies.

On the second point, Scheuer surely would have identified our policy with respect to Israel as a “root cause” of the terrorist’s desire to attack us (he apparently assumes that support of this western style democracy has nothing important to do with “what we think or believe”). But, if he’s honest he would also have to include our support of the royal family in Saudi Arabia. Indeed, al Qaeda’s 1998 fatwa placed that issue ahead of our support for Israel (it also placed President Clinton’s bombing of Iraq ahead of our policy towards Israel). Does Scheuer propose that we accommodate al Qaeda on this issue, thus creating the possibility that our deadliest enemy will have this oil-rich kingdom as its base of operations? If not, what is Scheuer talking about?

It’s scary to think that Scheuer could have been the chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit at its Counterterrorist Center. It’s even scarier to think that his policy views may well reflect the agency’s.

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