CIA: Resurgent Al Qaeda Now at Pre-9/11 Capability
On Saturday, Americans learned that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2005 cancelled a major U.S. raid into Pakistan designed to decapitate much of Al Qaeda's senior leadership. Now, a new CIA assessment details the steep price the U.S. is paying for President Bush's failure to enforce his mantra of "no safe havens." U.S. intelligence analysts, the AP reports, have concluded Al Qaeda has "rebuilt its operating capability to a level not seen since just before the 2001 terrorist attacks."
This grim assessment, part of an upcoming National Intelligence Estimate to be discussed at a White House gathering Thursday, paints a picture of a resurgent Al Qaeda. Almost six years after the September 11 attacks, the study suggests a failing report card for a Bush administration distracted by the war in Iraq and unable to pressure the Musharraf government over Al Qaeda's free reign in the northwest territories of Pakistan:
Counterterrorism analysts produced the document, titled "Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West." The document pays special heed to the terror group's safe haven in Pakistan and makes a range of observations about the threat posed to the United States and its allies, officials said.
Al-Qaida is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago" and has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001," the official said, paraphrasing the report's conclusions. "They are showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States."
The group also has created "the most robust training program since 2001, with an interest in using European operatives," the official quoted the report as saying.
At the same time, this official said, the report speaks of "significant gaps in intelligence" so U.S. authorities may be ignorant of potential or planned attacks.
John Kringen, who heads the CIA's analysis directorate, echoed the concerns about al-Qaida's resurgence during testimony and conversations with reporters at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday.
"They seem to be fairly well settled into the safe haven and the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan," Kringen testified. "We see more training. We see more money. We see more communications. We see that activity rising."
That's a damning assessment indeed for President Bush's global war on terror. With the Bush Doctrine of no safe havens, preemptive war and democracy in tatters, the President remains focused on staying the course in Iraq at all costs. In Washington, House Minority Leader John Boehner calls Senate GOP rebels on Iraq "wimps" and Tony Snow slanders the press corps as "defeatist." Meanwhile, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff announces his "gut feeling" about the increased threat of terror attacks within the United States.
Meanwhile, the resurgence of Al Qaeda on their watch continues unabated.