Osama bin Elvis?

The cover story for this month's issue of The American Spectator bears a bold and striking title, "Osama bin Elvis."  [Now online.] Angelo Codevilla, a former Senior Staff Member for the Senate Intelligence Committee, is its author, and as Jack Cashill explains at World Net Daily, Codevilla "argues persuasively" that Osama bin Ladin is long dead-probably, since late 2001 (the last time he was seen by any reputable person was October of that year, when he was interviewed by al Jazeerah.)

Codevilla's focus is the CIA. That so many attribute such outsize capabilities to bin Laden "can be traced to the CIA's institutional bias in favor of the idea of rogue agents and against Osama bin Elvisthat of state-sponsored terrorism," Cashill writes.

Cashill adds, "This bias found a particularly receptive audience in a ‘peace and prosperity' Clinton White House that had neither the cojones nor the competence to deal with its terrorism at its source."  Indeed, the Clinton administration was already quite consumed by the Arab-Israeli "peace process," when the World Trade Center was first attacked in February 1993 (reading Martin Indyk's memoir, Innocent Abroad, I'm reminded of that very narrow focus; they thought they were going to make the lions lie down with the lambs!)  

Who wanted to hear then that the United States might have a serious problem that went beyond the threat of "loose networks-the original Clinton-era term for this enemy?   Yet as George Tenet stated in June 2002, a "common thread" runs between the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the Trade Center, explaining that the 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is the uncle of Ramzi Yousef, who masterminded the 1993 bombing.   In 1995, the two conspired to bomb a dozen U.S. airliners, before the plot went awry when Yousef accidentally started a fire in the kitchen sink of his Manila apartment.  Americans had ample warning of a serious threat, but little was done.

Codevilla concludes that our problem "is not the CIA's mentality so much as the unwillingness of persons in government and the ‘attentive public' to exercise intellectual due diligence about international affairs.  Osama bin Laden's role might be as good as any place to start."