Curiouser and Curiouser: The Comeback Kids of Al Qaeda

We wrote here yesterday of the Bush Administration's curious propensity for allowing "al Qaeda" leaders in Iraq to slip away before its various surges and crackdowns in Iraq. But of course in this, the situation in Iraq simply mirrors the Administration's approach to al Qaeda throughout the whole "War on Terror" -- a policy that could be very charitably described as "benign neglect" (although more sinister constructions on this policy are also quite plausible).

For example, counterterrorism officials are now telling Congress that al Qaeda has restored its power and capabilities to pre-9/11 levels, AP reports. The curiously elusive group has been thriving in its safe haven in Pakistan – that staunch "War on Terror" ally which, with the blessing of President Bush, has curiously signed "truces" that give al Qaeda and the Taliban carte blanche to live and train on Pakistani soil. From AP:

A new threat assessment from U.S. counterterrorism analysts says that al-Qaeda has used its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border to restore its operating capabilities to a level unseen since the months before Sept. 11, 2001. A counterterrorism official familiar with a five-page summary of the document — titled "Al-Qaeda better positioned to strike the West" — called it a stark appraisal. The analysis will be part of a broader meeting at the White House on Thursday about an upcoming National Intelligence Estimate.

The findings suggests that the network that launched the most devastating terror attack on U.S. soil has been able to regroup despite nearly six years of bombings, war and other tactics aimed at dismantling it…

Al-Qaeda is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago" and has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001," the counterterrorism official said, paraphrasing the report's conclusions. "They are showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States…."

"They seem to be fairly well settled into the safe haven and the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan," Kringen testified. "We see more training. We see more money. We see more communications. We see that activity rising."

What is even more curious is the mention later in the story that the Bush Administration sees this assessment as good thing, a political winner:

The findings could bolster the president's hand at a moment when support on Capitol Hill for the war is eroding and the administration is struggling to defend its decision for a military buildup in Iraq.

Apparently, the pretzel logic behind this is that the Administration will try to link the assessment with Bush's new propaganda push labeling al Qaeda as the "main enemy" in Iraq, the "primary source" of violence in the conquered land.  Oddly enough, the Bushists seem to think that admitting, as Buzzflash notes, that the entire "War on Terror" has been an abject failure – with al Qaeda stronger than ever – would somehow reflect positively on the Administration. This also seems to be the thinking behind the now-open Republican longing for a new terrorist strike on American soil, which they think will somehow vindicate the Dear Leader, and renew popular support for Bush's Hitlerite war crime in Iraq.

Well, who knows? It just might work. Certainly, the corporate media are doing their bit for the cause, propagating at every turn Bush's transparent lie about al Qaeda's central role in Iraq. Every genuine intelligence and military assessment of the situation there has shown that "al Qaeda associated groups" make up a miniscule proportion of the hydra-headed Iraqi insurgency. Yet the American media have mindlessly adopted Bush's falsehood, filling headlines and airtime with reports on the plucky surgers "taking the fight to al Qaeda."

Yes, "taking the fight" to them by greenlighting safe havens for them, and giving them plenty of notice before a "surge" so they can slip away. It is indeed a very curious way to fight a "War on Terror." Why, it almost seems as if the "War on Terror" is not really about fighting  terror at all.