Still Crazy After All These Years

Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay of Knight Ridder report that many former and some current CIA operatives are opposing the Dick’s effort to exempt the CIA from a ban on mistreatment of detainees.

“We ought to declare we don’t do this. We ought to declare the intelligence isn’t worth it,” said Frank Anderson, a former chief of the CIA’s Near East and South Asia division in the agency’s Operations Directorate, the clandestine service.

There’s also the question of what brutality does to those who carry it out, Anderson said.

“I will rebel against anyone who wants my son to torture, because it won’t ever heal,” he said, speaking at a conference this week sponsored by the Middle East Institute.

Anderson’s views were echoed, with some variation, in interviews with a half-dozen current and former CIA and military officers with extensive field experience. Retired and active officers made similar arguments against abusing prisoners, but none of the current CIA or military officers would agree to speak on the record because they aren’t authorized to talk to the media.

Robert Baer, a former CIA covert officer who worked in Iraq and elsewhere, said he recently spent time in an Israeli prison, talking with detainees from the radical Palestinian groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas for a British documentary about suicide bombers.

The Israelis, Baer said, have learned that they can gain valuable information by establishing personal relationships with the inmates and gaining their trust.

“They found that torture, abusive tactics, made things overall worse for them politically,” Baer said. “The Israelis are friendly with their prisoners. They play cards with them and allow them to contact their families. They are getting in their minds to determine what makes up a suicide bomber.

However, Ron Hutcheson of Knight Ridder reports that the Dick isn’t backing down:

“There seems to be a kind of collective consciousness that he’s become weakened,” said Steven Clemons, a foreign policy specialist at the New America Foundation, a public-policy group that seeks to bridge partisan differences. “He’s going to continue to matter, but is he going to matter as much as he did before? Probably not.” …

… Most politicians in Cheney’s situation would scramble to change course, but he isn’t like most politicians. Days after Libby resigned, Cheney replaced him with David Addington, another longtime adviser, who helped draft a 2002 memo defending the use of torture in some circumstances.

The vice president courted more controversy by taking the lead role in trying to exempt the CIA from a ban on cruel and inhumane interrogation techniques.

“I just don’t think he cares,” said Rich Galen, a Republican consultant and a Cheney defender. “He believes that we are, in fact, at war. When you’re at war, you can’t be distracted by these kinds of things. He’s going to move ahead.”

And, of course, it never occurs to him that he might actually be wrong about anything.

When Bush first came to Washington, Cheney was widely viewed as the experienced, steady hand in an untested White House. Now he’s more likely to be pilloried as the hawk who helped push the president into a messy war that could drag on for years.

Longtime associates say Cheney has become obsessed with the threat of terrorism, especially the possibility of a biological, chemical or nuclear attack. By Bush’s own description, the vice president was “gung-ho” for war with Iraq well before the president committed to it.

Republicans who once bit their tongues or limited their criticism of Cheney to the cocktail circuit are starting to go public. Associates from Cheney’s days as defense secretary under President George H.W. Bush say they don’t understand him.


…I’ll never worry
Why should I?
It’s all gonna fade

Now I sit by my window
And I watch the cars
I fear I’ll do some damage
One fine day
But I would not be convicted
By a jury of my peers
Still crazy after all these years
Oh, still crazy
Still crazy
Still crazy after all these years …

Update: Via BillmonLaura Rozen at War and Piece says torture is a tactic for losers.

I was in a torture chamber once, in the basement of a police station in Kosovo days after it was abandoned by Serb forces defeated by Nato. It was hideous as you would imagine. The British soldiers who were with me were equally shocked. A lot of the instruments and interrogation drugs I saw there also suggest they were not designed to cause organ failure or death in their victims, just pain and terror, as Mr. Cheney and his office mates suggest is what they are going for in terms of legal wiggle room. And like Mr. Cheney and his office mates, Mr. Milosevic and his Serb troops didn’t seem to overly concern themselves with the Geneva conventions, until it was a bit late. Having laid my eyes on what such a scene looks like, I just associate such activities with the forces of not only the pathological and depraved, but those who are headed for defeat. If you’ve seen it, you realize in a way that’s hard to explain, it’s the tactics of the losers. If Cheney and his office mates haven’t had the experience, perhaps they should. And I really don’t think it’s inconceivable that the remote possibility of the Hague may lie in some of their futures. Things change fast when they do, as history shows, and they could find their current willing protectors eventually chucked from office, and a whole new climate at home and abroad.

Losing the War on Terror

Via Altercation, I see Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon have a new book called The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting It Right. Simon and Benjamin were respectively Director and Senior Director of Counter-Terrorism on the National Security Council during the Clinton Administration, and they had publicly warned of a massive terrorist strike against the United States before September 11. Their earlier book The Age of Sacred Terror is, IMO, a must-read.

Altercation has an excerpt from the new book:

A core part of the case that Bush and his advisers made was that Saddam might collude with terrorists because it would allow him to hurt the United States “without leaving fingerprints,” but it appears that a large part of the reason Iraq—like Iran and Libya—stopped targeting the United States was the belief that it could not carry out an attack without detection. (Iran, under its newly elected president, Muhammad Khatami, may have also changed its policy after the Khobar Towers attack because terrorism was not advancing its goals. The Iranian regime appears to have supported the attack because of a desire to drive a wedge between the United States and Saudi Arabia, but the bombing’s only effect was to cause Washington to move the troops stationed in Saudi Arabia to a more secure location.) Since detection carries with it a strong likelihood of retaliation, as Iraq learned in 1993, when U.S. cruise missiles destroyed the country’s intelligence headquarters, the calculus did not make sense—it was just no longer worth the risk to attack America. That cruise missile strike was derided by conservative critics of the Clinton administration as a “pinprick,” but Saddam seemed to have gotten the message.

No rightie will admit to that in a million years, of course.

Beyond the matter of whether the Iraqi regime was likely to attempt a terrorist attack against the United States, the administration’s argument raised the further question of whether Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Laden were likely to collaborate. In fact, Iraq and al Qaeda were anything but natural allies. A central tenet of Al Qaeda’s jihadist ideology is that secular Muslim rulers and their regimes have oppressed the believers and have plunged Islam into a historic crisis. Hence, a paramount goal of Islamist revolutionaries for almost half a century has been the destruction of the regimes of such leaders as Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, President Hafez al-Assad of Syria, the military government in Algeria ,and the Saudi royal family. To contemporary jihadists, Saddam was another in a line of dangerous secularists, an enemy of the faith who refused to rule by Islamic law and who habitually murdered religious leaders in Iraq who might oppose his regime. Perhaps the best summation of the jihadist view of Saddam’s Iraq was given during the Persian Gulf War by Omar Abdel Rahman, the radical sheik now imprisoned in the United States. When he was asked what the punishment should be for those who supported the United States in the conflict, he answered, “Both those who are against and the ones who are with Iraq should be killed.”

Simon and Benjamin go on to say that the few contacts made between bin Laden’s and Hussein’s camps, which mostly occurred in the early 1990s, were part of a “Middle Eastern tradition of keeping tabs on all groups, friendly or not.” Further, it was the consensus of the intelligence community that neither Iraq nor Iran were having much to do with bin Laden.

In 1998, in an effort to ensure that the U.S. government was not becoming complacent in this judgment, Richard Clarke asked his staff to evaluate the available intelligence to see if these conclusions were justified. After reviewing a large amount of intelligence, they too endorsed the intelligence community’s verdict. After a lengthy investigation of its own, the 9/11 Commission arrived at the same understanding in 2004 and noted in its final report, “We have seen no evidence that [the contacts] ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.”

I brought that up because we’re seeing so much crapola from the Right these days about how “even Bill Clinton” though Saddam Hussein was dangerous. Maybe he did, but Bill Clinton didn’t think Saddam Hussein posed much of a threat to the United States. And by 1998 the Clinton Administration had realized that al Qaeda and other radical Islamic jihadist groups were far more dangerous than Saddam Hussein was. But the righties never get around to mentioning that.

This is from a New York Times review of the same book:

Like the CIA officer Michael Scheuer, the author (under the pseudonym “Anonymous”) of the 2004 book “Imperial Hubris,” Benjamin and Simon regard the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a kind of Christmas present to Osama bin Laden: an unnecessary and ill-judged war of choice that has not only become a recruitment tool for jihads but that has also affirmed the story line that Qaeda leaders have been telling the Muslim world – that America is waging war against Islam and seeking to occupy oil-rich Muslim countries.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq toppled one of the Mideast’s secular dictatorships, the authors write, and produced a country in chaos, a country that could well become what Afghanistan was during the years of Soviet occupation: a magnet for jihads and would-be jihads from around the world.

Do tell.

Richard Clarke wrote in his book Against All Enemies that something like the Iraq War was bin Laden’s plan all along. At least a decade before 9/11, according to Clark, Osama was hanging out in the Sudan dreaming up an Iraq scenario–

The ingredients al Qaeda dreamed of for propagating its movement were a Christian government attacking a weaker Muslim region, allowing the new terrorist group to rally jihadists from many countries to come to the aid of the religious brethren. After the success of the jihad, the Muslim region would become a radical Islamic state, a breeding ground for more terrorists, a part of the eventual network of Islamic states that would make up the great new Caliphate, or Muslim empire. [p. 136]

So, George, Dick, Condi, Rummy, Dougie, Wolfie, and the rest of the crew–Osama bin Laden sends a big thank you!

Simon and Benjamin acknowledge that it was widely believed that Saddam Hussein did have biochemical WMDs, although not nuclear weapons. But they say the critical question that should have been asked before the invasion was not did he have them, but would he use them?

…The answer to these questions is the same: no. Saddam is an execrable man and one of the most loathsome national leaders in a century in which there was plenty of competition. He had miscalculated badly on a number of occasions, most notably by invading Kuwait in August 1990. But he was not insane. He wanted to avoid obliteration. As far as the United States and its vital interests were concerned, he was deterred.

Now let’s repeat a snip from the last post, taken from yesterday’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. The speakers are Michael Scheuer, Rand Beers, and Matthews.

MATTHEWS: Michael, just to think outside the box, would we be better off with Saddam Hussein still running tyrannically that country of Iraq, right next door to Jordan? Would Jordan be more secure in that environment?

SCHEUER: No doubt about it, sir.

MATTHEWS: No doubt?

SCHEUER: There‘d be … many fewer dead Americans,[*] and we would have many more resources available to annihilate al Qaeda, which is what we have to do. Without a doubt, in the war against al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein was one of our best allies.


SCHEUER: He was not going to permit Iraq to become a base, as it is today, for Sunni fundamentalists.

MATTHEWS: Why did he let them come in for that training, that chemical training, whatever the hell they did up north?

SCHEUER: They didn‘t control the area, so that was in the no-fly zone. They were in an area that was in Kurdistan.


SCHEUER: And they were Shia.

* Note: Scheuer stumbled on his words and said “more dead,” then he corrected himself. The transcript reads as if he said there would be more dead, which is not what he meant.

See what kind of information you can get when people who know something don’t get shouted over by rightie goons and Bushie shills? I’m listening to today’s Hardball now, as I keyboard. All this week Matthew has been doing a pretty good job of presenting the arguments against the war that we should have heard before the invasion. Before the invasion, Matthews’s guests tended to consist of an occasional liberal meekly asking why we had to invade right now–can’t we give the inspectors more time?–and a mess of righties screeching that everybody knows leaving Saddam Hussein was dangerous and every moment we delayed put America at terrible risk. Thanks, Tweety.

BTW, this rightie blogger linked to the dialogue and commented:

And what about this idea that Saddam Hussein was one of the best allies the U.S. had in the war against al Qaeda? This is leftist propaganda dished up to be adopted and amplified by others who believe that Bush went after the wrong guy. Poor Saddam was after all, a bad guy, but a bad guy who could have been made good with a few simple diplomatic meet-ups and pressure from the United Nations. HEH!

Righties tend to be literal. Obviously Scheuer was using “ally” in a metaphorical sense, as in “ladybugs are our best ally against aphids” or “rain is our best ally against drought.” He was not saying that Saddam Hussein would have been cooperative with the U.S., but that leaving him where he was worked to our advantage vis à vis al Qaeda for reasons throughly explained in the remainder of the dialogue. No “diplomatic meet-ups and pressure from the United Nations” were required, any more than with ladybugs.

Listen to Him Next Time

Is the chaos in Iraq crossing over the border into Jordan? Before the Iraq invasion, King Abdullah of Jordan tried to warn the White House this might happen.

From the memory hole courtesy of His Majesty’s web site, an interview with King Abdullah of Jordan from August 2002, conducted by Glenn Kessler & Peter Slevin of The Washington Post.

Abdullah, speaking in an interview in his suite at the Four Seasons hotel, said an invasion of Iraq could splinter the country and spread across the Middle East. He commented as the Senate held its first hearings on the wisdom of a military campaign to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Abdullah said a reluctance by allies to confront the Bush administration over Iraq may have left U.S. policymakers falsely believing that there is little opposition to a war. Many also may have believed that the prospect of war was far in the distance, though Abdullah said “all of the sudden this thing is moving to the horizon much closer than we believed.”

“In all the years I have seen in the international community, everybody is saying this is a bad idea,” he said. “If it seems America says we want to hit Baghdad, that’s not what Jordanians think, or the British, the French, the Russians, the Chinese and everybody else.”

While Blair is frequently seen as a close partner of President Bush, Abdullah said, “Blair has tremendous concerns about how this would unravel.”

Abdullah dismissed the assertion of some U.S. officials that the rise of a democratic Iraq would lead to better prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. “In an ideal world, that could be a possibility,” he said. “Life being as it is, and so uncertain, very few people are convinced that that attitude would happen so easily. Our concern is exactly the opposite, that a miscalculation in Iraq would throw the whole area into turmoil.”

This wasn’t the first time King Abdullah had expressed misgivings about invading Iraq. A quickie google turned up a March 2002 CNN article in which the King told the Dick

that a U.S.-led military campaign against Iraq would be disastrous for the region and would undermine the broader coalition in the war on terrorism.

During a weekend meeting with an Iraqi official, King Abdullah said a U.S. military confrontation with Iraq would be a “catastrophe” for the region.

On the other hand, here are remarks by President Bush to King Abdullah from May 2004:

The fall of Saddam Hussein removed a source of instability and intimidation from the heart of the Middle East. All of Iraq’s neighbors, including Jordan, are safer now. And the emergence of a peaceful, prosperous, and free Iraq will contribute to Jordan’s security and prosperity.

Hmm, who turned out to be right? …

Note to lurking righties who always need everything explained to them multiple times: Nobody, including King Abdullah, is opposed to a peaceful, prosperous, and free Iraq. Nor does anyone deny that a peaceful, prosperous, and free Iraq would contribute to the security and prosperity of the Middle East. What King Abdullah said–and it appears he had a clue–is that a U.S. invasion of Iraq had little chance of resulting in a peaceful, prosperous, and free Iraq and a big chance of making the Middle East even more unstable than it already was.

Some background: Abu Musab Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s bombings in Jordan. This is from an article just posted on the Time magazine web site:

Zarqawi, born Ahmad Nazzal Fadil al Khalayilah (his nom de guerre is an adaptation of Zarqa, his industrial hometown in northern Jordan) has been engaged in a long-running struggle with Jordan’s King Abdullah II. Their duel began immediately after Abdullah ascended the throne in 1999, when he freed the Jordanian militant from prison in a general amnesty. Zarqawi, 39, had been jailed in the early 1990s on sedition charges after joining an Islamic fundamentalist group. He repaid Abdullah’s royal gesture by starting a relentless terrorism campaign against Jordanian monarchy. In turn, Abdullah has stood firm against Islamic extremism and sought to bring Zarqawi to justice, cooperating ever more closely with the Bush administration’s War on Terrorism.

In hindsight, we might say that King Abdullah made a mistake letting Zarqawi go. But not as big a mistake as the Bushies, who passed up at least three chances to terminate Zarqawi before the invasion of Iraq.

The Amman attacks fit a now-familiar pattern of terrorism that began after the U.S. war in Iraq in 2003: simultaneous blasts against Western targets hit housing and office compounds in Saudi Arabia in 2003 and 2004, hotels in Morocco in May 2003, and tourist resorts in Egypt in October 2004 and July 2005. In each case, the targets were in Arab countries led by pro-American governments.

But Zarqawi had his sights on Jordan long before the Iraq war. Jordanian officials accuse him of directing the so-called Millennium Plot to hit tourist sites, including the Radisson Hotel in Amman, on New Year’s Eve 1999. Last year, a Jordanian court sentenced Zarqawi to death for instigating the assassination of an American diplomat in 2002. In 2004, Jordanian officials said they foiled a chemical bomb attack directed by Zarqawi that could have killed up to 20,000 people; he is currently standing trial in absentia for the plot.

Here’s the most alarming part:

Wednesday’s attacks suggest that Abdullah’s worst fears about the Iraq war may be coming to pass. Though the King has been a staunch ally in the War on Terrorism, and provided key logistical support in the Iraq invasion, he strongly opposed the war on grounds that a conflict could further destabilize the Middle East.

The signs that the insurgency in Iraq was spilling on to Jordanian territory became apparent right after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, when Zarqawi’s men launched a massive bomb attack on the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad. Just over two months ago, Zarqawi claimed credit for shoulder-fired rocket attacks on U.S. warships in Jordan’s port of Aqaba. The shots missed their targets, killed two bystanders and served as a warning that more Zarqawi attacks may be on the way.

Worse from Jordan’s perspective, large numbers of young Jordanian men have gone to Iraq to join Zarqawi’s cause, raising the concern of another generation of young Zarqawis.

This is from yesterday’s Hardball with Chris Matthews

MATTHEWS: … I want to bring in former CIA officer, Bob Baer, who joins us by phone. Mr. Baer, what do you make of this? We are looking at the earmarks of this in the early going here, three hotels hit simultaneously in the tourist areas of Amman, suicides apparently involved.

ROBERT BAER, FMR. CIA OFFICER: Well, Chris, I think to say first, that General Downing has hit the nail on the head, and I would like to even go farther in that what we are seeing is the chaos in Iraq slopping over the border into Jordan. Jordan has a long border with Iraq; weapons can come across very easily.

You have a majority population is Palestinian. They are very proinsurgency in Iraq. And you also have a strong Hamas and Islamic Jihad presence, which uses suicide bombings. In addition to Zarqawi, and until we can stabilize Iraq, I bet you we are going to be seeing more of this in the future.

MATTHEWS: How does that work? … Is it out of towners, the foreigners, or is it the Iraqis?

BAER: It‘s both. It‘s both support coming out of Saudi Arabia, from the fundamentalists, the Salafists. It is Sunni fundamentalists in general, who can foresee re-emergence of caliphate, which would include Syria, Lebanon, Anbar Province in Iraq, probably Baghdad and Jordan, and these people are after power.

They think that this is a domino, and you can bring down these capitals one after another, and they would especially like to go after King Abdullah. His mother is English. He is western educated. Jordan is a very sophisticated, westernized country.


BAER: And they want to bring it down. And that would be a huge feather in their cap, the fundamentalists.

If you continue reading the transcript, you run into some commentary I’ve seen elsewhere–that al Qaeda and the Iraq insurgency are not seeing eye to eye these days. Al Qaeda does not want a Shia-Sunni war, which is where the Iraq insurgency might be heading. This is a development that bears watching.

Close to the end of the transcript are remarks by Michael Scheuer and Rand Beers:

MATTHEWS: …Michael Scheuer served as chief of the CIA‘s bin Laden unit. He also wrote the book, Imperial Hubris, why the West is losing the war on terror.

Rand Beers served as a special assistant to President Bush on combating terrorism. He was also a member of the national security council during the Clinton administration.

Gentlemen, Michael and then Rand, what does this tell us about where we stand in the world, the war in Iraq, it‘s relevance to this, et cetera?

MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER COVERT CIA OFFICER: By invading Iraq, we‘ve basically signed the death warrant of Jordan and much of the Levant. bin Laden, it‘s another example, Chris, of no one reading what bin Laden said. bin Laden prizes contiguity about all things. An area where he can operate from safe haven into another country.

MATTHEWS: Now his save haven is war-torn Iraq?

SCHEUER: Exactly right, sir. We created his bastion to get to an area he‘s never been able to work against, which is the Levant, Israel, Egypt. He now has safe haven to operate from there.

MATTHEWS: He couldn‘t operate from his home country of Jordan. He couldn‘t attack Jordan from within?

SCHEUER: Well, al-Zarqawi could have. But for bin Laden, what we are seeing is al Qaeda move forces to Iraq to be able to move in against the Jordanians, against the Syrians, and eventually into Lebanon and into Israel.

MATTHEWS: What is the goal of the bombings tonight as you understand it? Why did people do it, who apparently committed suicide to do so, what drove them to that, what‘s their mission?

SCHEUER: Well, part of it was to destabilize Jordan. Part of it was to finish the job they failed to do in 2000. You remember, the Radisson was in the Millennium attack, was a target. And so it‘s meant to further the spread of the Jihad.

It‘s a very nice operation. There‘s going to be tremendous casualties there, and once again, the president and the secretary of defense will whistle past the graveyard saying this is, al Qaeda‘s back is broken, this is some kind of a new organization out there.

MATTHEWS: Is this meant, this attack on Jordan, meant to make life in Jordan so unstable that people say, we might as well try something new?

RAND BEERS, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL STAFFER: Well, it‘s certainly designed to do as much to destabilize the current government there as possible.

MATTHEWS: What does destabilize mean?

BEERS: What it means, is basically force the government to use its security forces to go after cells there, and in so doing, create a sense of repression.

MATTHEWS: It makes them feel like an occupying force.

BEERS: That‘s right.

MATTHEWS: And that‘s what the terrorists want to achieve, to make the Hashemite government, King Abdullah, seem like a Western power put on top of them.

BEERS: That‘s right. And taking the longstanding relationship with Jordan, with the United States, this makes them an extension of the United States in the eyes of al Qaeda, have been for some time. That‘s why Zarqawi started there. That‘s why he was involved in some attacks there. That‘s why he has had a cell structure there that preexisted what he did in Iraq.

MATTHEWS: Michael, just to think outside the box, would we be better off with Saddam Hussein still running tyrannically that country of Iraq, right next door to Jordan? Would Jordan be more secure in that environment?

SCHEUER: No doubt about it, sir.

MATTHEWS: No doubt?

SCHEUER: There‘d be … many fewer dead Americans, and we would have many more resources available to annihilate al Qaeda, which is what we have to do. Without a doubt, in the war against al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein was one of our best allies.


SCHEUER: He was not going to permit Iraq to become a base, as it is today, for Sunni fundamentalists.

MATTHEWS: Why did he let them come in for that training, that chemical training, whatever the hell they did up north?

SCHEUER: They didn‘t control the area, so that was in the no-fly zone. They were in an area that was in Kurdistan.


SCHEUER: And they were Shia.

MATTHEWS: Do you buy this argument that if had we not gone into Iraq, Jordan would be safer to live in right now?

BEERS: Oh, I think in near term, that‘s absolutely true. You can‘t dispute that.

MATTHEWS: And these fellows, who were just on trial who now—I shouldn‘t call them fellows, like they are pals of mine. These guys who are the terrorists are under down in Australia now, saying the reason they went to the plan, at least, to blow up areas and use their explosives, was they are anger about the war in Iraq. Do you believe that that‘s the true motive?

BEERS: I think that that was certainly a large part of it, and I would say, let‘s remember what people have said recently. The spokesman for al Qaeda, a guy named Gadahn, who is an American citizen, said that there would be attacks in Australia and at Los Angeles. If you go back and you think about the original Radisson plot, the original Radisson plot in the millennium was also what Rassam was doing coming into the United States when we caught him at the border.

MATTHEWS: From Canada.

BEERS: From Canada. He was going to LAX. So I have to say here, we had better pull up our socks and be looking very carefully within our own borders at this time.

MATTHEWS: You think this is a sign of something to come here …

BEERS: Well, we do know …

MATTHEWS: … what was happening Jordan tonight?

BEERS: Well, we do know that they come back to the scene of operations that they failed to complete. They have come back to the scene with the Radisson. That was partly …

MATTHEWS: They came back to the scene of the World Trade Center, 1993, back in 2001.

BEERS: Right. That‘s right. They did the Cole after the missed the Fitzgerald in Aden, so we know that there is this pattern of coming back for failed operations.

SCHEUER: I think what you‘re seeing too, Chris, is we haven‘t heard from bin Laden for a year. The last time we heard him, and he said that‘s the end of it, I am not warning you anymore. I think the next time we see Osama bin Laden is after there‘s an attack in the United States.

Juan Cole has more.

McClellan Meltdown

See First Draft for the transcript of yesterday’s Scott McClellan smackdown. Dan Froonkin adds:

Later, when American Urban Radio reporter April Ryan took up the question again, McClellan accused her of “showboating for the cameras” and told her she needed to “calm down.”

Surprisingly, there’s no outcry in today’s coverage over McClellan’s tactics. But it does make you wonder how much longer he can trade on his accumulated good will with the press corps.

In any other White House it would be time for the press secretary to “spend more time with his family.” But who else are the Bushies gonna get to do that job for them? Karen Hughes, maybe, if she weren’t so busy trotting around the globe to remind people why they don’t like us.