Wednesday, September 08, 2004

DeLong's notes on a Richard Clarke speech

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog
"We are not threatened by something called 'terrorism'. We are threatened by a militant subsect of Wahabism." Saudis are Wahabists. Only a few Wahabists are Jihadists. Necessary to preserve and widen the separation between the two.

Al Qaeda's Shurra Council--2/3 of the members of the Shurra Council as of 9/11 are dead or captured, yes. But they have been replaced. We have not captured 2/3 of Al Qaeda's [current] leaders. It has new leaders.

George W. Bush asked for an organizational chart of Al Qaeda so that he could cross people off as they were killed or captured. A very "MBA" way of looking at it, it seemed to me. I remembered "The Battle of Algiers". At the end, the French have caught and tortured and killed all of the urban guerrilla leaders they had identified at the start. And the French had lost the war.

The transformation of Al Qaeda. Breakup into fourteen more-or-less regional pieces. An ideology, not an organization.

Need good law enforcement, good intelligence, and the ability to strike deep when we have a real target. When we don't have a real target, however...

1.3 billion Muslims
200 million of whom believe now (much fewer on 9/12) they support Al Qaeda and its ilk
100,000 Jihadists.

Control and eliminate the third; woo the second; keep the first from drifting into the second.

How good is our intelligence? SigInt as good as it could be: really good. The spy divisions of our intelligence agencies are broken: we have no good spies. Jordanians have spies, British have spies in the Middle East. We don't--not really.

Intelligence analysis the most important. It was intelligence analysis that really fell down on the job in Iraq. The job of the analyst is to say "we don't know" when we don't know.

Oklahoma City: Connection between Terry Nichols and Ramze Usef? Clarke has been unable to disprove the existence of a relationship.

Intelligence analysts need to have open minds, for the world is a really weird place..

9/11 not a failure of intelligence. We told Bush 44 times that Al Qaeda was determined to attack--"Al Qaeda determined to attack inside U.S."

Praise of Clinton's actions in December 1999--that kind of press would have given us a chance in the summer of 2001. Praise of the State Department's Intelligence Bureau...

Since 9/11 very little has been done inside the U.S. as far as Homeland Security is concerned: no raising of the low-hanging fruit vulnerable to Al Qaeda and its ilk...

Why hasn't Al Qaeda struck again?

--We don't know, we guess.

--The FBI: it has done a lot to disrupt Al Qaeda operations inside the U.S.
--Al Qaeda has regionalized itself: not clear anyone thinks they're responsible for mounting American (as opposed to Indonesian, Mediterranean, et cetera) operations.
--They've set themselves a high bar: the only operations they are considering now are those that are even worse than 9/11.

The invasion of Iraq: an extraordinary strategic defeat for the United States, made worse by the war crimes of Abu Ghraib. The pool of people who really hate us is much greater than it was on 9/11.

You ask what could happen that would be really bad? You don't have to say "could": things are really bad. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Pervez Musharraf has suffered three assassination attempts this year. The last two regional elections in Pakistan have been won by the Osama bin Laden party. Imagine a successful assassination of Pakistan followed by a Taliban-like takeover.

You want another bad thing? The fall of the House of Saud in a fashion analogous to the fall of the House of Pahlavi twenty-five years ago.

Another bad thing? Iran. Iran had an organizational relationship with Al Qaeda. Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. But our ability to act is constrained by the fact that Bush and Powell and company lied about Iraq.


Bush says he is accepting 9/11 Commission's recommendations, but he isn't--not really...

We should not approve of Putin's policies in Chechnya...

Our worldwide credibility is totally shot...

The decisive battles of the War on Terror cannot be fought not in places like Fallujah or the Hindu Kush. It's a war of ideas. If we mobilize our ideas to split the 200 million who think they support bin Laden off away from the 100,000 Jihadists, we win.

Yeah, this is right. Bush is wrong. Sigh.

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