Reflections on a House Divided


Of Note: Monday, January 23 2006

1. You MUST understand, HE IS WRONG, Even When He's Right...He's Wrong. Understand.

Struggling every inch of the way, the author of this piece can't help concluding that, yes indeed, The President's notion that Iraq is - really - the main front in the War on Terror after all, has been reached in paralleled by his primary counter-part on the Terrorist end - Osama bin Laden. And that, as things stand, it is Mr bin Laden who stands to lose the most from this convergence. The contortions the author goes through though in getting to that place are almost as painful to watch in reading the piece as they must have been for him to undergo in the first place. And, though ideologically in opposition to him, I was embarrassed for the man.

He seems to think this state-of-things was purely an accident "...but Bin Laden's message plays into the president's pitch that it's better to fight the terrorists over there than here. In that sense, Iraq is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. It has become the main event in the war on terror, even though the invasion was about Saddam Hussein, not Al Qaeda,"  and if one was to be uncharitable it might almost seems though he takes it to be an unfortunate accident at that. Which impression is not dispelled by the fact that he goes on to instruct Mr. bin Laden in the errors of his ways:
"And herein lies a source of great perplexity for Bin Laden, whose interests do not perfectly align with the narrower agenda of the Baathist Sunni resistance in Iraq. To the extent that followers of Al Qaeda are joining the Iraqi insurgency as the most convenient way of lashing out at the United States, Al Qaeda and associated groups will increasingly be scorned by Iraq's victimized Shiite majority, which looks to Iran for support and deliverance."

The piece ends though with its own puzzle. Fore, having spent half his space in making petulant remarks concerning the Presidents perceptions of, attitude towards, and conduct of the war, he - the author - puts his finger at last on an actual source of grave concern: as to whether Mr. bin Laden will " also [have] more reason to worry about the determination and power of the United States...then he has concerning "his standing in the Muslim world." And, to express the wish that that was indeed the case. Would though that the author, and those expressing similar views, saw the role played by their own passive-aggressive hand-wringing in making the reality of American determination and power more, rather than less, problematic.

The Editorial:
January 22, 2006 : Opinion
Osama unplugged

2. More Disappointing Developments For the Democrat Opposition

It's Curtains for al-Qaida
What happens when Iraqi "insurgents" take on Zarqawi's thugs?
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Jan. 16, 2006, at 1:57 PM ET

3. Rashomon Comes to the Sub-Continent:
These accounts cannot all be true, can they? And, if not, which one is?

Pakistan PM: CIA attack reports 'bizarre'
No evidence that top al Qaeda leaders were at target, he says

Sunday, January 22, 2006 Posted: 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Sunday ridiculed as "bizarre"

a U.S. report that senior al Qaeda leaders were killed in a CIA attack on a home along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said no evidence indicates al Qaeda leaders were killed in a CIA air strike.
WATCH Browse/Search PM Aziz talks about the U.S. air strike that targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri (6:20)
"There is no evidence, as of half an hour ago, that there were any other people there...we have not found one body or one shred of evidence that these people were there.""


Pakistan names 3 al Qaeda believed killed in strike
Wed Jan 18, 2006 11:13 PM ET

By Simon Cameron-Moore

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani intelligence sources on Thursday identified three of four al Qaeda members believed to have been killed by a U.S. air strike last week, though they have yet to recover the bodies.

One of the dead was said to be Abdul Rehman Al-Misri al Maghribi, a son-in-law of al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri. Maghribi was responsible for al Qaeda's media department.

Another was Midhat Mursi al-Sayid 'Umar, an expert in explosives and poisons who carried a $5 million (3 million pound) U.S. bounty on his head under the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Rewards for Justice programme.

Pakistani officials gave a slightly different spelling for the name, but the FBI says 'Umar ran a training camp at Derunta in Afghanistan and since 1999 had proliferated training manuals containing crude recipes for chemical and biological weapons.

The third man identified was Abu Obaidah al Misri, al Qaeda's chief of operations in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, where U.S. and Afghan forces regularly come under attack from militant groups.

The Pakistani intelligence officers said they were still trying to identify a fourth al Qaeda member who was also believed to have been killed in last Friday's air strike.

"Their bodies are unaccounted for and this information is based on intelligence," one of the Pakistani agents told Reuters.

Pakistanis Say 'Four or Five' Foreign Terrorists Died in Purported U.S. Strike in Border Village
By RIAZ KHAN Associated Press Writer

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Jan 17, 2006 — At least four foreign terrorists died in the purported U.S. air strike aimed at al-Qaida's No. 2 leader in a Pakistani border village, the provincial government said Tuesday.

A statement, issued by the administration of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, also said that between 10 and 12 foreign extremists had been invited to the dinner at the village hit in Friday's attack.


The two later accounts are not at all necessarily inconsistent. It is easily conceivable that information concerning the results of the air-strike was released by two different governmental agencies - and perhaps even in ignorance of each others disclosures. Such is Bureaucracy - as we know and love it. And, two different news services were involved as well,  employing in this case writers of differing backgrounds. On the other hand, there seems to be only one realistic possibility that those accounts are consistent with that expressed by the Pakistani PM. That possibility rests on the conjecture that Mr. Aziz is staining to finesse the situation through reference to there being no bodies yet available, and his use of the term "shred of evidence" is made in order to emphasise the lack of physical evidence. Whereas, the Pakistani sources quoted in the other accounts for the most part concurred with that impression, but cited intelligence sources as the origin of their conclusions as to the deaths of terrorists. And, the kind of response made by the PM would not be at all out-of-the-ordinary, or inappropriate - given the legitimate need to protect intelligence sources. However, in this case the information seems to have been already too thoroughly exposed for any such damage control to be contemplated realistically - though, perhaps not.

Assuming though that a late attempt to cover sources is not what is at the root of these tales divergence, some additional weight seems added to the position that the air-strike did indeed result in terrorist casualties, by a line in a later AP story on the incident: "Also Saturday, two Pakistani intelligence officials said a captured al-Qaeda leader had informed interrogators that he had met Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's top deputy, last year at one of the homes that was hit."  That is just the kind of detail that would lend plausibility to a story of that kind. And, the PM's account may be simply indicative of the fact that the Pakistani Government - or perhaps just he and some others in Government - are not yet willing to let the US off the hook. And, that is this regards they seem to reflect the mood of their people - though that may change once more in the wake of continued American aid to victims of the recent earthquake - as has happened in the period right previous to this incident when American relief efforts brought about a sudden and dramatic reversal of public opinion - in favour of the US, and in rejection of the terrorists (and even prior to that - apparently in response to their own recent experience of terrorist attacks, as well as the failure of the Islamists to accomplish their stated objectives).

(C) David Aronin 2006