Coupla none-too-sanguine perspectives on the folding up of the CIA’s bin Laden unit.
Michael Scheuer, the first head of the unit and now a ubiquitous talking head, on CBS:
“To dismantle the unit who chases that individual and that group seems to me a questionable decision.”
“We’ve seen just in the last couple weeks that [bin Laden] can dominate the international media whenever he wants to, and he reached out and replaced [Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi with one of his own people. So the idea that he’s not in control is simply a pipe dream.”
And Peter Bergen (who wrote this fine piece for us a few years ago relating how the war in Iraq was diverting essential resources and energy from the hunt for bin Laden and the struggle against violent jihadism), on CNN:
[The decision to close down the unit] blew me away…. I mean… I’m sure there are good bureaucratic reasons for that, but I find it very — I find it hard to understand that decision.
I mean, here is bin Laden now suddenly popping up with annoying regularity on these audiotapes, Ayman Al-Zawahri releasing more videotapes than Britney Spears, and they’re closing down, you know, the bin Laden unit. I don’t know — I think, psychologically, that sends a terrible message.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri in tape that emerged on the first
anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings