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May 30, 2008

CIA Director: US Making Significant Gains In Fight Against Al Qaeda

What a difference a year can make.

While cautioning that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat, (CIA Director Michael) Hayden said Osama bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents. Two years ago, a CIA study concluded that the U.S.-led war had become a propaganda and marketing bonanza for al-Qaeda, generating cash donations and legions of volunteers.

All that has changed, Hayden said in an interview with The Washington Post this week that coincided with the start of his third year at the helm of the CIA.

"On balance, we are doing pretty well," he said, ticking down a list of accomplishments: "Near strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally -- and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' -- as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam," he said.

Senator Barack Obama's often repeated talking point that al Qaeda "is stronger than ever" could not be reached for comment. In a related development, the meme that we create more terrorists by fighting and killing terrorists is in critical condition, suffering from acute exposure to reality.

Hayden does point out that recent victories are not guaranteed to be permanent and are reversible. The inconvenient truth is that not every one (and I think we all know who is talking about) is focused on the mission.

"The fact that we have kept [Americans] safe for pushing seven years now has got them back into the state of mind where 'safe' is normal," he said. "Our view is: Safe is hard-won, every 24 hours."

Hayden, who has previously highlighted a gulf between Washington and its European allies on how to battle terrorism, said he is troubled that Congress and many in the media are "focused less on the threat and more on the tactics the nation has chosen to deal with the threat" -- a reference to controversial CIA interrogation techniques approved by Hayden's predecessors.

I am sure Nancy Pelosi would like to take a moment to thank al Qaeda for their generosity and help in making this all possible.


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posted by DrewM. at 10:55 AM

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