Tuesday, February 19, 2008
don't give up the fight:
Richard Clarke, the Cassandra of counterterrorism, the man behind the unheeded Delenda plan to destroy al-Qaeda before 9/11, has a new book coming out. It's called Your Government Failed You, after his famous apology to the families of 9/11 victims before the 9/11 Commission. I was in the press box at the hearing when Clarke said those words, and it was like an emotional dam bursting. The families -- so angry, so traumatized, and feeling so disrespected -- stood up and applauded him. Clarke remains the only U.S. official ever to apologize for 9/11.

Clarke's latest book is another well-informed and scathing attack on the conduct of the so-called Global War On Terrorism. An essay based on its thesis is found in one of the best sources for terrorism information around, the CTC Sentinel, published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. In a nutshell: make counterterrorism a full-spectrum fight against al-Qaeda across both civilian and military agencies of the U.S. government; get out of Iraq right now; break up the Department of Homeland Security. A taste:
To defeat the al-Qa'ida movement, it must be recognized as a cancer infecting only a small percentage of the greater body of peace-loving Muslims worldwide. While eliminating the cancer is our end objective, our more immediate goal is to keep it from spreading. Yet many of our actions aimed at capturing and killing terrorists have alienated wide swathes of the Muslim world. In short, what we have done to eliminate the cancer has served to spread it. The most important counterterrorism tools are law enforcement, intelligence and ideology. When military action is called for, we must act swiftly and decisively, but in the context of defeating al-Qa'ida, smart bombs, cruise missiles and SEAL teams must be applied like a surgeon's scalpel to prevent a counterproductive reaction among people affected by the collateral damage.
But that's no fun. Let's go waterboarding!
--Spencer Ackerman