In today's Washington Post..here's the opening paragraph:
U.S. counterterrorism officials are increasingly convinced that the killing of Osama bin Laden and the toll of seven years of CIA drone strikes have pushed al-Qaeda to the brink of collapse.
The article quotes the usual unnamed sources.
The WAPO, being the relatively careful news organization it is covers its tracks carefully with caveats stuck away in odd corners like "al Qaeda might yet rally", "its demise would not end the terrorist threat" and "Even if al Qaeda is dismantled, its militant ideology has spread and will remain a long-term threat."
But the headline and the overwhelming thrust of the article is that al-Qaeda is finished.
Isn't that just wonderful? Wouldn't it be nice to believe that the war that began on 9/11 is all over now, and we beat the bad guys?
Sorry, but I'm afraid I have to pop your bubble.Let's look at something obvious. Why would this be fed to the media just now? And who benefits?
This story fits neatly into the Obama Administration's plans. And even though the WAPO isn't naming names, I can pretty much figure out whom they got it from and why.
We're getting out of Afghanistan, but if we - oh pardon me, President Barack Obama - killed Osama bin-Laden and defeated al-Qaeda, it's not a retreat anymore is it? On the campaign trail, it becomes a win. It can be touted as ''We've finished off the bad guys, and look at who it was that ended Bush's War brought our troops home!' So President Obama gets a totally undeserved label from the usual media suspects as a national security genius.
Not only that but since we've won, we can slash defense spending to the bone and spend that money on Obama's domestic agenda, can't we?
Now that we've figured out the why and who benefits, let's examine who the media almost certainly got this from..and why it's so dangerous.
Leon Panetta, until very recently was the head of our CIA, and just a couple of weeks ago was in Afghanistan saying "We’re within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda."
Now, he's the Secretary of Defense charged with two major responsibilities. First, getting our troops out of Afghanistan in accordance with President Obama's set in stone date in time for maximum benefit for the president at election time, and selling it to Congress and the media as justified by the military situation. And second, to institute the massive defense cuts his boss is calling for.
All just a coincidence, of course. But I think it's a pretty good bet that he's the WAPO's source, that this was ordered directly by the White House and that we'll likely see more of these stories.
Aside from the despicable nature of playing politics with national security, this story is extremely dangerous in and of itself.
Contrary to what this president and his administration would have you believe, we were never really just fighting al-Qaeda, but a whole slew of Islamist organizations ( many of them associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafist groups) and the rogue states that support them. Al-Qaeda were at most just part of the parade, and slightly out of hand subcontractors. And the story also ignores the significant ties between al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and what that might mean in countries like Egypt. If you'll recall, al-Qaeda's current leader, Ayman Zawahiri is both an Egyptian and a former member of the Brotherhood, and I've speculated on these pages that the one of the reasons Osama bin-Laden was ratted out was because of the disagreement between the two about staying in Pakistan versus relocating to the Arab World.
This story's also extremely dangerous because of the honor shame factor involved. Trumpeting al-Qaeda's defeat in the press could be just the impetus needed for them to put another operation against the Great Satan into action.
Deluding the American people into thinking that this war is mostly over and lulling them into a false sense of security is exactly what the Islamists want. In fact, that war, because of the desultory way our leaders chose to fight it is merely begun.
That's why this piece is the most dangerous story in the news today.