The CIA's Former Expert on Bin Laden

The CIA's former Bin Laden specialist, Michael Scheuer, has written a revealing article about KSM --- Khalil Sheikh Mohammed, the operational chief of Al Qaeda, who has now been convicted by a military tribunal. KSM's elaborate confession was published by the Defense Department, giving Scheuer a chance to show us how well he understands Al Qaida. Unfortunately he doesn't say anything new about that, while being amazingly candid about his own biases and that of his cohort at the CIA. It's not a pretty picture.

Like Valerie Plame, Scheuer is an unabashed Leftist, as he showed in his first CIA-approved book. He openly admires Al Qaida --- remember, this is the guy who was in charge of protecting us before 9/11 (!!!) And he sides with the justice of their cause. According to Publisher's Weekly's review of Scheuer's first book, he believes that

"Arab antagonism to the West ... has its root in real grievances that have gone unaddressed by U.S. measures. The actions of the Saudis, and their U.S. supporters, come in for some hard criticism, as does the elevation of Northern Alliance warlords to de facto governors of Afghanistan. The author makes some challenging remarks regarding Israel ... while playing down the extent to which the Taliban itself was a corrupt theocratic regime..."
Indeed, Scheuer despises Israel, calling it a "theocracy-in-all-but-name." But that is bizarre and ignorant. Israel was founded by secular, democratic Left-wingers like David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir, who had seen their families and friends murdered in Europe because they were Jews. Nobody asked if they were religious Jews or not. In fact, most of them were militantly secular; some early kibbutzim went so far Left as to add a blessing for Jozef Stalin to the Passover ceremony. Israel has exactly the same debates between religious and secular people that we have in the United States, and those debates are decided democratically and by rule of law. Michael Scheuer is purported to be a "Middle East expert," but how can any expert make such a basic mistake?

Scheuer's bottom line: We deserved 9/11. 

Oddly enough, the CIA's top Bin Laden's specialist has an utterly immoral view of war, contrary to the entire Western "Just War" tradition, which ranges from Cicero to Aquinas and well into the 20th century. In a Just War context, the Geneva Conventions mean something; targeting innocents means something; wearing uniforms that visibly identify soldiers and protect civilians means something. None of those major, life-saving civilizational constraints mean anything to Scheuer.

He approvingly quotes KSM:

"Knowing history better than his interlocutors, KSM told the tribunal: 'But you are military men. I did it [the list of attacks] but this is the language of any war ... Military [men] throughout history know very well. They know war will never stop. War start from Adam when Cain he killed Abel until now. It's never gonna stop killing people. This [killing and victims] is the way of the language [of war] ... You know never stopping war. This is life.'"
But that is the barbarians' view of warfare. And if you hold that view, there is no difference between the fire and the fire brigade. The fire consumes innocent lives, while the fire brigade risks life and limb to save them. But the Scheuers of this world are so morally lost and confused that they cannot tell the difference.

Scheuer certainly doesn't seem like a very bright or well-informed guy, but much worse, it is his moral worldview that is corrupted: That is the real problem. If our CIA promoted him up the ranks in utter disregard of his nihilistic view of the American cause, there must be something profoundly wrong at Langley.

Finally, Scheuer is convinced there were never any WMDs in Iraq. Oddly enough, Saddam's own generals were convinced they did have WMDs, and as any historian can tell Mr. Scheuer, the truth about such things is rarely known until long afterwards. Historians are still trying to figure out Nazi Germany's nuclear program today. 

So our top CIA analyst on Bin Laden has just decided there was no WMD rationale to go to war, even while the WMD question is still open to rational doubt. (See this article, for example). In other words, Mr. Scheuer has adopted the views of the militant Left on an issue that is at best debatable. That is an elementary analytic error. 

Forget Michael Scheuer, the person --- but what is the matter at the CIA? Here is our top Bin Laden analyst, who shows lamentable ignorance about the Middle East; who has a nihilistic view of warfare, and therefore of American history; who is happy to rush into print with a shoddy and biased take on the war, approved by the CIA itself; and who allows his political biases to distort his judgments of events.

Like Valerie Plame, Scheuer is a symbol of incompetence, ignorance and moral corruption among the top guardians of our national security.

James Lewis blogs at http://www.dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/
The CIA's former Bin Laden specialist, Michael Scheuer, has written a revealing article about KSM --- Khalil Sheikh Mohammed, the operational chief of Al Qaeda, who has now been convicted by a military tribunal. KSM's elaborate confession was published by the Defense Department, giving Scheuer a chance to show us how well he understands Al Qaida. Unfortunately he doesn't say anything new about that, while being amazingly candid about his own biases and that of his cohort at the CIA. It's not a pretty picture.

Like Valerie Plame, Scheuer is an unabashed Leftist, as he showed in his first CIA-approved book. He openly admires Al Qaida --- remember, this is the guy who was in charge of protecting us before 9/11 (!!!) And he sides with the justice of their cause. According to Publisher's Weekly's review of Scheuer's first book, he believes that

"Arab antagonism to the West ... has its root in real grievances that have gone unaddressed by U.S. measures. The actions of the Saudis, and their U.S. supporters, come in for some hard criticism, as does the elevation of Northern Alliance warlords to de facto governors of Afghanistan. The author makes some challenging remarks regarding Israel ... while playing down the extent to which the Taliban itself was a corrupt theocratic regime..."
Indeed, Scheuer despises Israel, calling it a "theocracy-in-all-but-name." But that is bizarre and ignorant. Israel was founded by secular, democratic Left-wingers like David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir, who had seen their families and friends murdered in Europe because they were Jews. Nobody asked if they were religious Jews or not. In fact, most of them were militantly secular; some early kibbutzim went so far Left as to add a blessing for Jozef Stalin to the Passover ceremony. Israel has exactly the same debates between religious and secular people that we have in the United States, and those debates are decided democratically and by rule of law. Michael Scheuer is purported to be a "Middle East expert," but how can any expert make such a basic mistake?

Scheuer's bottom line: We deserved 9/11. 

Oddly enough, the CIA's top Bin Laden's specialist has an utterly immoral view of war, contrary to the entire Western "Just War" tradition, which ranges from Cicero to Aquinas and well into the 20th century. In a Just War context, the Geneva Conventions mean something; targeting innocents means something; wearing uniforms that visibly identify soldiers and protect civilians means something. None of those major, life-saving civilizational constraints mean anything to Scheuer.

He approvingly quotes KSM:

"Knowing history better than his interlocutors, KSM told the tribunal: 'But you are military men. I did it [the list of attacks] but this is the language of any war ... Military [men] throughout history know very well. They know war will never stop. War start from Adam when Cain he killed Abel until now. It's never gonna stop killing people. This [killing and victims] is the way of the language [of war] ... You know never stopping war. This is life.'"
But that is the barbarians' view of warfare. And if you hold that view, there is no difference between the fire and the fire brigade. The fire consumes innocent lives, while the fire brigade risks life and limb to save them. But the Scheuers of this world are so morally lost and confused that they cannot tell the difference.

Scheuer certainly doesn't seem like a very bright or well-informed guy, but much worse, it is his moral worldview that is corrupted: That is the real problem. If our CIA promoted him up the ranks in utter disregard of his nihilistic view of the American cause, there must be something profoundly wrong at Langley.

Finally, Scheuer is convinced there were never any WMDs in Iraq. Oddly enough, Saddam's own generals were convinced they did have WMDs, and as any historian can tell Mr. Scheuer, the truth about such things is rarely known until long afterwards. Historians are still trying to figure out Nazi Germany's nuclear program today. 

So our top CIA analyst on Bin Laden has just decided there was no WMD rationale to go to war, even while the WMD question is still open to rational doubt. (See this article, for example). In other words, Mr. Scheuer has adopted the views of the militant Left on an issue that is at best debatable. That is an elementary analytic error. 

Forget Michael Scheuer, the person --- but what is the matter at the CIA? Here is our top Bin Laden analyst, who shows lamentable ignorance about the Middle East; who has a nihilistic view of warfare, and therefore of American history; who is happy to rush into print with a shoddy and biased take on the war, approved by the CIA itself; and who allows his political biases to distort his judgments of events.

Like Valerie Plame, Scheuer is a symbol of incompetence, ignorance and moral corruption among the top guardians of our national security.

James Lewis blogs at http://www.dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/