I’ve been thinking how smart I would have seemed if I had posted on this topic last night as I had planned.
George “It will take us another five years to have the kind of clandestine service our country needs” Tenet must have just read the two books I just finished.
The first, Al Qaeda’s Great Escape, by Philip Smucker, tells a reporter’s view of the Afghan war and the Tora Bora debacle. It’s worth a read just to get the colleague’s view of Geraldo Rivera’s personal campaign to get Bin Laden – hilarious. The story of Tora Bora and, especially, Operation Anaconda stunned this amateur student of military strategy. T
he second, Blood from Stones, by Douglas Farah, tries to unravel the threads of terrorist financing, with chilling impact. There is much to be learned by following the money. Unfortunately, bureacratic turf wars seem to be harming the effort.
Both books paint very troubling pictures and the CIA comes out the worst. It’s also becoming clearer that the FBI and CIA are back to their turf wars and that Homeland Security is not calling the shots on homeland security. I suspect that intelligence info is still in too many separate silos. The vulnerabilities we continue to have and tolerate are disturbing, especially when no one is willing to admit that they ever made a mistake.
The most troubling question: is there greater danger in continuing the current course with the same people or opening up a huge window of vulnerability during the natural confusion of a change in administration? That’s a tough one. If Kerry can get people to the threshold that he can do a decent job on security, he’s probably got the election. I don’t think he’s done that and I’m someone who actually read the book about his life and war experiences and was impressed. Unfortunately, I was left wondering if the current Kerry is still like the young Kerry. If Kerry asked my opinion, and God knows he does not, floating the names of the people he’d appoint to key positions probably would do the trick for most people.
In any event, there are many reasons for heads to be rolling in Washington. In my mind, it makes sense for Tenet to be the first. Since it’s easier to fire the coach than the whole team, the current war between top military officials and Rumsfeld make him very likely to be next. Then the Ridge/Ashcroft battle will probably resolve in favor of Ridge. My wildcard guess, by the way, is that Cheney will step down and move to Secretary of Defense or Homeland Security, leaving Bush to pick a new VP (Rudy G?). In any event, the Tenet resignation will not be a solitary event – there’s a lot going on in Washington under the surface. I only hope that people remember to mind the shop while they jockey for position.
In the meantime, follow John Robb’s fantastic Global Guerillas blog and try to convince yourself that we are not preparing to fight the previous war.
Reminder: These predictions are for entertainment purposes only, unless I happen to be right. In that case, I reserve the right to claim that I am prescient.