we're running to tell the king
We don't see things as they are,
we see them as we are
Ground control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
--Space Oddity, David Bowie
Sunday's WaPo ran an excellent analysis, Overstating Our Fears, by Glenn L. Carle, 23-year veteran of the CIA's Clandestine Service who retired last year as deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats. Carle suggests we have become a nation of Chicken Littles, victims of the fear-mongering Bush administration.
Nothing we haven't been saying since 9-11. Below are some excerpts:
"We do not face a global jihadist "movement" but a series of disparate ethnic and religious conflicts involving Muslim populations, each of which remains fundamentally regional in nature and almost all of which long predate the existence of al-Qaeda.
"Osama bin Laden and his disciples are small men and secondary threats whose shadows are made large by our fears. Al-Qaeda is the only global jihadist organization and is the only Islamic terrorist organization that targets the U.S. homeland. . . . The organization, however, has only a handful of individuals capable of planning, organizing and leading a terrorist operation. . . . its capabilities are far inferior to its desires. . . .
". . . regional [islamic based] terrorist organizations may target U.S. interests or persons in the groups' historic areas of interest and operations. None of these groups is likely to succeed in seizing power or in destabilizing the societies they attack, though they may succeed in killing numerous people through sporadic attacks such as the Madrid train bombings."". . . This administration has heard what it has wished to hear, pressured the intelligence community to verify preconceptions, undermined or sidetracked opposing voices, and both instituted and been victim of procedures that guaranteed that the slightest terrorist threat reporting would receive disproportionate weight -- thereby comforting the administration's preconceptions and policy inclinations.
"We must not delude ourselves about the nature of the terrorist threat to our country. We must not take fright at the specter our leaders have exaggerated. In fact, we must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are.
Thank you, Mr. Carle, for being a voice of reason.