The great Gabriel Schoenfeld reviews the CIA's critique of its performance re 9/11 and zeroes in on Michael Scheuer, whose book Osama praises (along with Noam Chomsky) in his not yet officially released video.
It is astonishing that a man of so little academic or professional preparation, intelligence skills, probity, and management ability had been put in charge of tracking Osama. Even more astonishingly, he's still cited as an expert.
All told, the lapses committed by the UBL unit were so egregious that the OIG report recommends that the CIA formally consider taking disciplinary action against the chiefs of the counterterrorism section--Scheuer's superiors--for "the manner in which they staffed the UBL component." A plausible inference, but one difficult to confirm without further declassification, is that putting and keeping the negligent Scheuer in charge was one element of their malfeasance.
If the full OIG report does indeed contain far more detailed criticism of Scheuer's performance, it would not come as a surprise. Significant questions have been raised in the past not only about Scheuer's competence as a manager and an analyst, but also about his probity.
Scheuer testified at length before the 9/11 Commission. Serious doubts have emerged about the veracity of the information he provided. Two of the 9/11 report commissioners, Jamie Gorelick and Slade Gorton, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, have described "thoroughly and exhaustively" interviewing Scheuer in the course of the commission's investigation. Their conclusion did not mince words: "On a number of factual issues, he was of real value. But much of what he had to say was not borne out by our investigation."
Scheuer's integrity is more radically called into question by his own false statements about his career, including his 2005 claim in the correspondence section of Commentary that he was awarded the CIA's Intelligence Commendation Medal in part for "supply[ing] all of the information used in the federal indictment of Osama bin Laden." Osama bin Laden was indicted in 1998. Scheuer was given his CIA medal in 1995, three years before the indictment and one year before he was assigned to the UBL Station.
Of course, the media's favorite "experts" are so often clownish.
Yesterday Richard Clarke was quoted as saying Osama may have shaved off his beard because he's hiding in Southeast Asia where beards are uncommon. As if a six feet four inch tall guy with a shnozz that huge would blend in Malaysia, the Philippines or Indonesia if only he were beardless!