Friday, June 18, 2004
A senior US intelligence official is about to publish a bitter condemnation of America's counter-terrorism policy, arguing that the west is losing the war against al-Qaida and that an "avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked" war in Iraq has played into Osama bin Laden's hands.
The author is apparently writing under the name "Anonymous," yet has received permission from the American intelligence agency for whom he still works:
Imperial Hubris is the latest in a relentless stream of books attacking the administration in election year. Most of the earlier ones, however, were written by embittered former officials. This one is unprecedented in being the work of a serving official with nearly 20 years experience in counter-terrorism who is still part of the intelligence establishment.
The fact that he has been allowed to publish, albeit anonymously and without naming which agency he works for, may reflect the increasing frustration of senior intelligence officials at the course the administration has taken.
I have several reactions.
First, if The Guardian is correct, it is remarkable, and probably unprecedented, that our own intelligence agencies are turning against the White House like this during an election year. Unfortunately, it is not surprising. Republican international affairs experts are turning against this President in droves. I'm not sure that history will show them to be correct in this judgment -- to me, it looks as though we are doing well in this war by historical standards, even if we are not living up to the expectations set by the cocky hawks who argued us into Iraq.
Second, one wonders whether this will be another case when the President can't confront the witnesses against him. He is being attacked by "Anonymous." Can he tell us who "Anonymous" is without breaking the same law violated when Robert Novak outed Joe Wilson's wife?
Finally, this book will make for some very tedious press coverage. After Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke and the rest of the election-year insider tell-alls, will this book generate the same heat in the media? Sure it will, coming as it does just before the Democratic National Convention.
On your last point, I wonder if we've already reached a critical mass of anti-Bush polemics and the wider public is tuning them out. It's hard to determine from my perspective because of being up to my neck in the blogosphere. Every little thing gets amplified for guys like you and me when we're blogging or reading blogs, but then I talk to people in the "real world" and there are only the vaguest notions of the fine details I pour over everday. I've read so many arguments, defenses, accusations about every move the administration's made but most of the people who aren't submerged in blogs get the headlines and little else. Because of this, I think issues, both important and inconsequential, get glossed over by people who just aren't that interested. That's not a criticism of those people, just an observation. I'm sure it's always been that way.
I think my point is that to a certain extent Americans have been saturated and are going to vote their guts (for either side) as new claims against the Bush adminstration bead off (for better or worse) just because the "peeps" are busy going to work and baseball games and stuff. (Unless something really crazy happens, of course.)
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