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Sunday, November 14, 2004

In the news

You've probably seen the reports that "Anonymous" CIA agent Michael Scheuer has dropped his anonymity and will appear on "60 Minutes" later today. This is the headline claim:
Osama bin Laden has obtained permission from a Saudi religious official to use nuclear weapons against the United States, according to a CIA agent who resigned Friday.

In an interview scheduled to air tonight on CBS, Michael Scheuer told "60 Minutes" that a sheik has given bin Laden a lengthy treatise, which found that he was "perfectly within his rights to use them."
I don't know that I've ever linked to the Boston Herald before, but then again, they've never called me for quotes before:
Former CIA Director George Tenet never provided the [anti-bin Laden] unit with sufficient manpower, he [Scheuer] told "60 Minutes," and the United States has made the mistake of characterizing bin Laden as "a thug, a gangster," rather than a skilled plotter of destruction. And Scheuer is not alone in that view.

"Until the embassy bombings (in 1999), he wasn't taken as seriously," said Rodger A. Payne, professor of political science at the University of Louisville.

Whether any religious authority gave bin Laden the go-ahead for future attacks, however, is of relatively little significance, said Payne and Neamat Nojumi, a scholar and former Afghan mujahideen.
I explained to the journalist, Marie Szaniszlo, that the US likely thought bin Laden would use nuclear weapons if he had them, so that part of Scheuer's story was of little significance so far as US anti-terror and nonproliferation policy is concerned.

I'm also 99% sure I also told her the embassy bombings were August 1998. Still, the quotes are otherwise accurate.

The story concluded with this:
"Iraq, unfortunately, has distracted the United States," Payne said. "With the war still costing billions of dollars per month, it's a real trade-off in resources."
Regular readers of this blog already knew that.

Maybe some wire services will pickup the story? Check your local listings...

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