Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Bin Laden Unit downsided?

The New York Times reports:

he Central Intelligence Agency has fewer experienced case officers assigned to its headquarters unit dealing with Osama bin Laden than it did at the time of the attacks, despite repeated pleas from the unit’s leaders for reinforcements, a senior C.I.A. officer with extensive counterterrorism experience has told Congress.

A senior official disputes this:

A senior intelligence official who asked not to be identified strenuously disputed Mr. Scheuer’s criticism about the resources assigned to the war against Al Qaeda. “The assertions are off the mark,” the official said. “There are far more D.O. officers working against the Al Qaeda target both at C.I.A. headquarters and overseas than there were before Sept. 11,” the official said, using the abbreviation for the Directorate of Operations, the C.I.A.’s clandestine arm. “Our knowledge of and substantive expertise on Al Qaeda has increased enormously since 9/11. The overall size of the counterterrorism center has more than doubled, and its analytic capabilities have increased dramatically.”

But are the claims really incompatible? One official refers to the Bin Laden unit, the other to Al Qaeda and counter-terrorism. It seems to me that all the claims may be true.

Bin Laden may be effectively isolated. His communications need to go through chains of couriers, and thats slow and difficult. So focusing on more active players may make some sense.

Then there’s the question of what you do if you find him. If you kill him, you risk making him a martyr. If you capture him, do you bring him to trial? Recall that he’s already been indicted over the first set of World Trade Center attacks.

(Ecto seems to be losing parts of posts on me. Feh!)