Saturday, June 14, 2008

Yes, Obama is better than McCain, though Scheuer rightly points out, both seem dangerously willing to maintain expansionist (and failed) policies

Ex-CIA official: McCain, Obama lack terror plan

Ex-CIA official: McCain, Obama lack terror plan

The Daily Progress/Kaylin Bowers

Michael Scheuer, who once headed the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, says both major candidates are “rank and reckless interventionalists” who have failed to assure America’s safety.

By Seth Rosen

A former top CIA counterterrorism official excoriated the two major presidential candidates at a University of Virginia forum Friday for failing to articulate a vision to defeat Islamist terrorists and for promoting a continuation of President Bush’s policies in the Middle East.

Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, said during a speech before a full house at the Miller Center of Public Affairs that Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama are both “rank and reckless interventionalists” who have so far avoided laying out a prescription for making America safer.

Though the two presidential contenders have espoused sharply different views on a host of foreign policy issues on the campaign trail — especially on whether to begin withdrawing large numbers of troops from Iraq and whether to begin direct talks with Iran — Scheuer believes most of that is election rhetoric and bluster.

“The minute Obama gets in office he will find all kinds of nuances of why we can’t get out of Iraq,” he said after the speech.

Both candidates are, in fact, two sides of the same coin, he argued Friday. And as president, both men likely would promote policies in the Middle East and South Asia similar to those of the current administration, which have given fuel to Islamist terrorists, he added.

“Those who think [America’s] Muslim world policies will end when President Bush returns to his Texas ranch are sorely mistaken,” said Scheuer, whose newest book is “Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq.”

Scheuer published two influential books earlier this decade under the byline “anonymous” — “Through Our Enemies’ Eyes” and “Imperial Hubris” — that lambasted the Clinton and Bush administrations and top leaders in the intelligence community for not doing enough to counter the jihadist threat and prevent the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. From 2001 to 2004 he worked as an adviser to the chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit.

The interventionalism of the Bush administration has become ingrained as a “holy gospel” in both political parties and the media, Scheuer believes. Only by eschewing nation building in the Middle East, throwing off the yoke of oil dependency and drastically recasting our relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia can America become more secure, he said.

“Washington’s effort to build democracy abroad has a track record of making us less safe, not more safe,” he added.

He labeled Saudi Arabia as the country that represents the most dangerous threat to America. And, in some of his most controversial remarks, said that the U.S.-Israeli relationship is “on the cusp of unraveling.”

Some in the foreign policy community have blasted Scheuer’s “America first” prescriptions as unrealistic and overweening. The New York Times’ recent review labeled his newest book “enormously crude,” “extraordinarily narrow” and “difficult to take seriously.”

Scheuer has been an outspoken critic of the invasion of Iraq and described how the war has not only emboldened al-Qaida, but also given the group a beachhead in the heart of the Arab world.

“One of the bigger issues never talked about is that Saddam Hussein was an indispensable ally in our war against al-Qaida and what it represents,” he said.

He directed some of his sharpest words toward the media and its coverage of the presidential campaign. Journalists have been neglecting their duty, he said, by not pinning down Obama and McCain on key foreign policy issues, especially involving Iraq.

Original article posted here.

No comments: