Osama bin Laden escorted by the Black Guard. Click image to view.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel seems eager to fall into the same trap as the Bush administration did in its first term with respect to the campaign against al Qaeda. This is what Emanuel said yesterday on ABC News‘ ‘This Week’ about the Obama administration’s efforts against the terror group:
Emanuel also discussed the Taliban and Al Qaeda. “About a half of Al Qaeda has been eliminated in this last 18 months,” he said. “So we’re taking the pressure to al Qaeda, taking the pressure to the Taliban.”
Yet there was no information provided to back up such a statement. Let’s rewind the clock back to 2004:
President George W. Bush said on Tuesday he would tell the Republican convention that three-quarters of known al Qaeda leaders have been captured or killed, an increase from an earlier estimate of two-thirds.
For months, the CIA had privately advocated switching to the 75 percent figure, though the White House balked at using it publicly. Critics say the estimate is meaningless as losses by a decentralized al Qaeda are ever harder to estimate.
Bush told conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh that during his speech accepting the Republican nomination on Thursday he would “tell the people that three-quarters of the known al Qaeda leadership has been brought to justice.”
“And we’re still obviously on the hunt,” Bush added.
White House officials said the change took new information about arrests and the al Qaeda network into account, and was not politically timed for the Republican convention, where Bush’s war on terror is a central theme.
A CIA spokesman said the 75 percent estimate “is absolutely consistent with our view.”
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