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For Bush, There's Nowhere To Run (Or Hide)
(Written by Tommy Ates. Posted June 24, 2002)

If you haven't seen it on cable news or the Sunday papers, Osama bin Laden is coming back.

In a 'big' way, if you believe al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith.

To President Bush's chagrin, it was not like Osama bin Laden was down for the count. The Bush administration just wished it were that way.

After all, the morale of the American people comes first and the need for the financial markets, as well as the political landscape, to recover takes 'top priority' over a man living in caves with his Saudi oil money nearly gone, right?


Following the physical tracks of al Qaeda is as important as seeking out legitimate money sources for the terrorist network, but the rise of bin Laden - again, presumably to coincide with another attack (which the Bush administration is warning us about), puts a dent into the notion of a 'strong-arm presidency' which has defined President Bush since Sept. 11.

For Bush advisors, the nightmare scenario is already unfolding, bin Laden's sudden rise, may make for Bush's 'demise' in the war on terror at home and abroad.

Following the Abu Ghaith announcement on Al-Jazeera, there should be no surprise regarding that there emanated 'muted' response from the White House. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld both know that the al Qaeda says its words carefully and backs those words up with action. For al Qaeda to send the message announcing bin Laden's return, more than likely all the elements of a new attack (on America or American strategic interests) in already in place.

Fortunately for US intelligence, the Arab-American who happened to be on his cell phone in Las Vegas may have been the first person to uncover the plot, overhearing men talking in Arabic about a strike against America on the "day of freedom." Though it's not much to go on, for the slick al Qaeda operatives (who slipped through the cracks of the CIA, INS, FBI, and NSA to name a few) the spin-meisters who feasted on the capture of Jose Padilla regarding his 'dirty bomb' inquiry should shudder. Padilla's action was only in the planning stages; these al Qaeda threats indicate immediate attacks.

Previous Bush administration tactics to ward off possible terror attacks has been to warn about the basic plot ahead of time or to continue the 'conversation' as to whether Osama bin Laden is dead or alive, in an attempt to goad him back into the public eye.

Again and again, the FBI and CIA have underestimated how al Qaeda works, a terrorist organization that is, but isn't. Osama bin Laden operates to Arabic law and sentiment, not American press and 24-hour cable news.

President Bush only has to look at the Afghanistan conflict that did not achieve any of the mission directives save "regime change" from the Taliban (in the form of a tenuous, Hamid Karzai-led government even after the Afghan loya jorga). Numerous terrorist experts and Middle-Eastern scholars have said the al Qaeda is not an "army," but rather diffusive units, run on a need-to-know basis, with missions running simultaneously and the people in the know smaller, with the money-handlers even smaller.

The revelation that al Qaeda is recruiting American citizens like John Walker Lindh and Jose Padilla shows the continued frequency in which the network tests different infiltration 'techniques' to achieve success.

White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove knows too well that another attack on America the size of Sept. 11 or beyond would not instill blind faith in the US military, rather demands for blame within the current administration. And that's a 'no good' scenario for Bush in 2004.

The White House's previous terror threats substituting headlines from criticism on the war on terror will not stop the erosion of confidence in the President to fight al Qaeda, nor will it stop the questions regarding the 'lack of success' of reigning in the top leaders of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, where the battle against terrorism was supposed to be "won" and "dealt" with. Remember Afghanistan's General Tommy Franks?

Now, finally, Congressman like Senator John Kerry (D-MA) join in questioning the Bush administration's path of dealing with the Muslim terrorists, as Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) has already done, and as Sens. Bob Graham (D-FL) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) have through their intelligence committee's investigation of what U.S. intelligence knew about terrorist plans before Sept. 11. The Bush veneer of confidence and control is unfolding almost like clockwork with White House Counselor Karen Hughes' exit.

And with the impending Osama bin Laden comeback and new attacks almost a certainty, not even President Bush (and his jogging prowess) can outrun this beast.

Face it, with al Qaeda, the Bush administration is playing with a partial deck.

The White House needs to talk about substantive, political goals with Middle Eastern policy (Palestine), instead of displaying American strength with no real mission (Afghanistan).

We're already seen what Sept. 11 did to the political landscape, perhaps there is time to save this season of recovery from being the summer of discontent.   

About the author: Tommy Ates loves the left because the left is always right! Tommy Ates is a featured columnist of Left Is Right ( appearing in several publications, such as The Houston Chronicle, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Wichita Eagle, The Macon Telegraph, and Global Black News, among others. His email address is

Copyright 2002  All rights reserved.

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