Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tracking Osama ... I'm a little surprised I haven't come across this elsewhere. But in an interview this week with Time magazine, Porter Gross, the CIA head, aired some pretty telling frustrations:
WHEN WILL WE GET OSAMA BIN LADEN? That is a question that goes far deeper than you know. In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice. We are making very good progress on it. But when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play. We have to find a way to work in a conventional world in unconventional ways that are acceptable to the international community.

IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA OF WHERE HE IS. WHERE? I have an excellent idea of where he is. What's the next question?

So basically Gross is saying that Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border. But the U.S. cannot go into that area because it would be a breach of Pakistani sovereignty. Not only so, but Pakistan's President can't send troops there either because it would compromise the tenuous political balance on which his authority is currently based. As a result Osama can now essentially just chill out in broad daylight.

Reading even further into this, my guess is that Gross is actually annoyed as hell at Rumsfeld. As substantial as the geopolitical hurdles are with going into Pakistan, we could handle them if we wanted to; all it would take is a fair amount of local pressure followed by a quick exit. The trouble is Rumsfeld and the DoD have bungled Iraq so badly that there is currently no way to summon that pressure. Consequently, the CIA now has to spin its wheels. They did their job and found bin Laden -- Gross wouldn't be saying those things, especially after the intel failures with 9/11 and Iraq, if he didn't know exactly where Osama is -- but their intelligence isn't yet "actionable" because so much of our military and diplomatic resources are still tied up in Iraq.

So that's my guess. Gross could get Osama if we let him, but our military ineptitude is holding him back -- and he sure as hell knows it.


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