Pakistan admits it has no idea where Bin Laden is:
"He is alive, but more than that, where he is, no, it'll be just a guess and it won't have much basis," Gen Musharraf said.So all those "hot on the trail" stories just before the election were just for US voters' benefit, presumably. Which highlights the unprecedented amount of overseas interference in the US elections this year (and vice versa). Like Bush said, for or against. Good job, Musharraf.
Pressed about whether bin Laden's trail has gone cold, Gen Musharraf told the Post: "Yes, if you mean we don't know, from that point of view, we don't know where he is."
Meanwhile, UPI has a very revealing interview with Michael Scheuer, the ex-CIA spy who once headed the hunt for bin Laden and has now quit the agency after being banned from interviews to promote his book "Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror."
Scheuer said bin Laden was now possibly the Arab world's most popular leader, adding al-Qaida's domination of the Internet in the Muslim world was leading to the United States losing its battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide.
"They've beaten our pants off, especially with their Internet capability," Scheuer said. "They dominate discourse on the internet in the Islamic worlds."He said 8 to 10 opportunities to kill bin Laden failed because of inaction by the upper echelons of the U.S. bureaucracy. He said the Bush administration's claims that two-thirds of al-Qaida's leadership had been killed and destroyed were "ludicrous," noting the group functioned with terrorists, insurgents, financiers and administrators across the globe.
Scheuer noted that the US death penaly was hampering co-operation with European countries (whose laws prohibit rending suspects to countries with the death penalty). He also lamented the fact that Arab leaders remain very unpopular with their own people, calling bin Laden "a heroic figure" and "the only leader in the Islamic world."
"Unless we change or at least consider changing our policies in the Middle East, the room for bin Laden or bin Ladenism to grow is virtually unlimited," Scheuer said...Scheuer's comment tie in almost exactly with a new “strategic communications” report from Rumsfeld's own Pentagon:
"They're attacking us because of our unqualified support for Israel. They're attacking us because we've helped cement on their heads tyrannies in the Arab world ... for the last 40 years," he said.
On “the war of ideas or the struggle for hearts and minds”, the report says, “American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended”.Rather than admit their mistakes, apologise and bail out of the mess they have created, however, the report recommends more propaganda, more sophisticated PsyOps and more "Presidential leadership".
“American direct intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of, and support for, radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single digits in some Arab societies.”
Referring to the repeated mantra from the White House that those who oppose the US in the Middle East “hate our freedoms”, the report says: “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedoms’, but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favour of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing support, for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states.
“Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypo crisy. Moreover, saying that ‘freedom is the future of the Middle East’ is seen as patronising … in the eyes of Muslims, the American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. US actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination.”
The way America has handled itself since September 11 has played straight into the hands of al-Qaeda, the report adds. “American actions have elevated the authority of the jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims.” The result is that al-Qaeda has gone from being a marginal movement to having support across the entire Muslim world.
“Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic,” the report goes on, adding that to the Arab world the war is “no more than an extension of American domestic politics”. The US has zero credibility among Muslims which means that “whatever Americans do and say only serves … the enemy”.
The report says that the US is now engaged in a “global and generational struggle of ideas” which it is rapidly losing.
Given that Bush has just announced Donald Rumsfeld will be saying on for 4 more years, that seems highly unlikely.