In the greater scheme of things, I don’t think ‘getting’ Usama bin-Laden is all that important. I know for a fact that the CIA was instructed not to make him a martyr.

THE world may be better off if Osama Bin Laden remains at large, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s recently departed executive director.

If the world’s most wanted terrorist is captured or killed, a power struggle among his Al-Qaeda subordinates may trigger a wave of terror attacks, said AB “Buzzy” Krongard, who stepped down six weeks ago as the CIA’s third most senior executive.

“You can make the argument that we’re better off with him (at large),” Krongard said. “Because if something happens to Bin Laden, you might find a lot of people vying for his position and demonstrating how macho they are by unleashing a stream of terror.”

Krongard, a former investment banker who joined the CIA in 1998, said Bin Laden’s role among Islamic militants was changing.

“He’s turning into more of a charismatic leader than a terrorist mastermind,” he said. “Some of his lieutenants are the ones to worry about.”
The Sunday Times – World, January 09, 2005

I am not even certain that bin-Laden is alive. But what I find very surprising is how John McCain thinks he can score points on Barack Obama by accusing him of being too reckless in his pursuit of the world’s most infamous terrorist. Being sensitive to the feelings of others is what let bin-Laden escape from Tora Bora in the first place.

McCain’s argument is incredibly weak. He is not saying that he would not strike at bin-Laden within Pakistan without permission from Islamabad. He is saying that he would. His only substantive difference with Obama is that McCain thinks it is reckless to tell the truth about it beforehand. But what Obama is doing (aside from pandering to people’s thirst for justice) is putting Islamabad on notice that we won’t let them coddle Taliban and al-Qaeda elements that are now killing our troops in Afghanistan at a higher rate than Iraqis in Iraq. Put aside your assessment of the mission in Afghanistan. My point here is strictly political. How does letting Obama look tougher on terrorism help John McCain?

One of McCain’s goals for the evening was to convince viewers that Obama was a liberal who would raise their taxes and hike spending, but the number of voters who thought Obama was “too liberal” actually decreased throughout the evening. That could be because Obama used tougher foreign policy rhetoric than Americans are used to hearing from Democratic nominees. But he also got an assist from McCain, whose efforts to make him seem risky instead often position him as more hawkish than McCain. If viewers come away from the debate thinking Obama will do more to go after bin Laden and al Qaeda than McCain would, that’s probably a plus for Democrats. And it makes it harder for the “liberal” charge to stick.

This is but one example of McCain’s ineptitude. Another example was when McCain began the debate with an attempt to attack Obama from the left. He announced a plan to buy up $300 billion worth of bad mortgages and refinance them to help set a floor for the housing market. The details may differ, but that is strikingly similar to what Steven D advocated on Monday. I don’t think McCain succeeded with this proposal in painting Obama as too liberal. In fact, he just infuriated his base that has been blaming poor black people for the mortgage crisis.

McCain’s debate performance was an unmitigated disaster.