I think Mr. Clarke had a tendency to interfere too much with the activities of the CIA, and our leadership at the senior level let him interfere too much. So criticism from him I kind of wear as a badge of honor.— Michael Scheuer
The most terrific Michael Scheuer quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening
Sister Virginia used to say, 'You'll be known by the company you keep.'
You can forgive your leaders for not knowing the intricacies of Islamic history.
You cannot forgive them for not knowing their own. And when you look at American democracy, where did it start? It started, if you need to pick a point, at Runnymede in 1215. We have now been at this process, we and our English-speaking allies, for 800 years.
It's not a choice between war and peace.
It's a choice between war and endless war. It's not appeasement. I think it's better even to call it American self-interest.
We haven't done anything. That has devolved into a partisan bickering of the kind that says Nero was fiddling while Rome burned.
One of the great intellectual failures of the American intelligence community, and especially the counterterrorism community, is to assume if someone hasn't attacked us, it's because he can't or because we've defeated him.
A nuclear weapon of some dimension, whether it's actually a nuclear weapon, or a dirty bomb, or some kind of radiological device. Yes, I think it's probably a near thing.
No one wants to abandon the Israelis.
But I think the perception is, and I think it's probably an accurate perception, that the tail is leading the dog - that we are giving the Israelis carte blanche ability to exercise whatever they want to do in their area.
Most dramatically, and perhaps least noticed, is the violence inside Saudi Arabia itself.
I don't believe in inevitability. But I think it's pretty close to being inevitable...Yes, I think it's probably a near thing.
No one should be surprised when Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda detonate a weapon of mass destruction in the United States. I don't believe in inevitability. But I think it's pretty close to being inevitable.
Our relationship with Israel is another reason we're being attacked.
But an American politician - whether Muslim or not - who criticizes Israel as a martyrdom operation in American politics cannot survive as an official or as a politician.
So what we have is an American foreign policy that is inextricably linked to domestic matters. It is very dangerous for a politician who desires nothing more than to stay in office to address the mindset that any change in policy is appeasement. And Americans will accept that for a certain amount of time.
We [Americans] continue to be harangued by politicians about how Americans must fight this war because we're being attacked because we have freedoms and liberties and women in the workplace and a whole list of ephemera that have nothing to do with this war at all.
I've said before: If Osama bin Laden was a Christian, Iraq was the Christmas present he always wanted but never expected his parents to give. It validated for the Muslim world virtually all of bin Laden's rhetoric. He had always said the Americans will destroy any strong Muslim regime, and we did.
Well, there are certain pockets of improvement.
The one that I think is most important is that state and local law enforcement levels have started to do a lot more educative efforts within their organizations to understand the kind of threat we're facing. They've given up on the federal level.
In terms of Iraq, al Qaeda valued Iraq because we destroyed a government it wanted destroyed and because we put soldiers on the ground and forces that they could attack. Al Qaeda is basically an insurgent organization that was formed on the model of the Afghan groups. And being bred in that war, they value a contiguous safe haven as much as anything else.
The FBI continues to be a broken, anachronistic organization, but state and local law enforcement officials are much more attuned to the kind of threat we're facing. I think that's very hopeful, but it's a long-term process.
And if that's what the American people want, then that's what the policy should be, of course. But the idea that anything in the United States is too sensitive to discuss or too dangerous to discuss is really, I think, absurd.
Just as some of the most ardent political ideologues in the West are young people, revolutionaries, the '60s generation, - in Islam some of the most religious people are the youngsters. But more important than that, the prophet - in his writings, in his traditions - and the Koran itself say that the Muslim youth are the ones whom the future depends on and that it's up to them to do the fighting.
He [Osama bin Laden] is clearly an odd combination of a 12th-century theologian and a 21st-century CEO. He runs an absolutely unique organization in the Islamic world. It's multiethnic, multilinguistic, multinational. He is a combat veteran, three times wounded. He has a huge reputation in the Islamic world for generosity and leadership. He's a man who speaks eloquent, almost poetic Arabic, according to Bernard Lewis.
The uniqueness of the unit was more or less that it was focused on a single individual. It was really the first time the agency had done that sort of effort.
Bin Laden does reprehensible activities, and we should surely take care of that by killing him as soon as we can. But he's not an irrational man. He's a very worthy enemy. He's an enemy to worry about.
I don't know what our capabilities are.
If I were there, I think it would be nutty to do that. The only country on Earth more containable than Iran is Iraq. And we've certainly made a mistake there. We could have continued Saddam.
We've gone thorough religious wars and civil wars.
America has gone through slavery, we've all gone through two world wars, segregation. Ultimately it's been a bloody, trying, wasteful, but eventually positive struggle.
If the Americans attack Iran for the first time in 1,400 years, we may unite Sunnis and Shias against us. So I guess there is room for accomplishment everywhere.
Islam is a civilization that is fractured linguistically, ethnically, sectarian-wise, as ours is. What bin Laden has done, though, is to identify a number of issues that are tangible and visceral for Muslims. His indictment list of Western support for Arab tyranny, our ability to keep oil prices too low - at least until recently - our occupation of the Arabian Peninsula.
The whole importance of Iraq is that we have now created two things.
One, Iraq is in the Arab heartland in terms of an attraction for people who want to fight the Americans and their allies. It's far greater than anything Afghanistan was aftertheSoviets invaded. It's easy to get to, there's no trouble with languages.
I also think that there is a huge failure in the American education system to educate Americans about where we, our system, our government, came from. And to some extent this failure is shared in places like Britain and Canada and Australia.
You just have to come to grips with the fact that people don't like to be invaded or bombed by anybody. And America has been engaged in that.
It's going to become clear that the impact of our policies rather than our way of life is what's attracting animosity and warfare on us. And I think there is going to be a surge from the bottom up that will begin to straighten things out. Because Americans, in the long run, are not going to want their daughters and their sons to die overseas so the al Saud family can continue raping Saudi Arabia's revenue.
First of all, there's no separation of church and state in the Islamic world.
They're one and the same. And so when President Bush or Senator Kerry or Prime Minister Blair says, "Look, adopt our secular democracy, look at how good we've done. We have a wonderful level of standard of living for our people," what many Muslims hear is, "Turn your back on God and follow what men say."
You become an anti-Semite. And as powerful as the Israeli lobby is, the Saudi lobby is just as powerful. In fact, the Saudis probably have more money to throw around, and they suborn former U.S. intelligence officials, former ambassadors, former generals to support them from within by lobbying the Congress and other American institutions.
And so to dismiss these homegrown terrorists as boobs, which is one of the terms that was used in one of the New York newspapers after the Miami raid, is true now, but to bet on that is I think a sure way to lose your bank account.
The major problem for America is we're losing two wars.
We're losing in Afghanistan, we're losing in Iraq. And there seems very little likelihood that we're going to increase the number of troops we have in either place to the point that we can prevail.
I think one of the most destructive things in terms of American security has been for all of our leaders, without exception in both parties, to identify Osama bin Laden as a gangster or as a madman, as an apocalyptic character who's out to destroy our civilization.
In an odd way, we have really destroyed two of our strongest allies against the Islamists. Saddam Hussein, and we've probably fatally undermined Bashir al Assad in Syria.
Iraq, for the first time, gives al Qaeda and its allies contiguous safe-haven territory to train and launch attacks into the Levant. First into Jordan and Syria, and then into Lebanon, and virtually and ultimately into Israel and probably Egypt too. It also gives them haven to eventually work their way toward Turkey and into the Arabian Peninsula.
If you look at groups in the Palestine region, Hamas and the Palestine Islamic jihad, more often than not in their first operations they would accidentally blow themselves up on the way to the target or the bomb wouldn't go off.
But more important, I think, is the criticism bin Laden has made publicly over the past 10 years that Muslim governments cannot even protect their own people. And more than that, they'll often collude with the infidels. And if you recall, the initial reaction of the Arab league was to criticize Hezbollah and damn Hezbollah for the war. And they eventually had to turn 180degrees and support Hezbollah.
The world is lousy with Arab princes.
And if we could have got Osama bin Laden, and saved at some point down the road 3,000 American lives, a few less Arab princes would have been OK in my book.
Any strong Muslim regime that threatens Israel, and we did.
He said the Americans only want oil, and, of course, Iraq has the second-largest reserves. And he said that we will always replace God's law with manmade law. And finally that we intended to occupy and destroy Islamic sanctities. And I suspect that in our government, very few people knew that Iraq was the second-holiest place in Islam, after the Arabian Peninsula.
It is clear to me that the racism was on the other foot, that really, society in Europe was much more racist - vis-à-vis Arabs at least and black Africans - than American society.
They [politicians] have defined the war simply in terms of the detonation of explosives. When you look at the broader picture, America is mired in two wars that we're losing at the moment. We have a political environment that is as poisonous as anything I've seen, at least since the end of Vietnam.
'The war in Iraq - if Osama was a Christian - it's the Christmas present he never would have expected.
Bin Laden is remarkably eager for Americans to know why he doesn't like us, what he intends to do about it and then following up and doing something about it in terms of military actions.
It's very clear from what he [Osama ben Laden] said, what his lieutenants have said, that America is not even their main enemy. We're simply in the way of what they want to do in their own world, which is to destroy police states and Israel.
We have not destroyed al Qaeda, so we still have that to worry about.
We have its traditional allies, the Kashmiri groups, the groups that are operating now in Iraq, and now we have a third tier of threat amongst the Muslims that live in the West and who are inspired to do something against the West by the example of the other two tiers.
Where he was, where his cells were, where his logistical channels were, how he communicated. Who his allies were. Who donated to them. I think it's fair to say the entire range of sources were brought to bear.
I think the world is more perilous and America is basically undefended.
For me the two touchstones after 9/11 for domestic security were our borders. Not for discriminatory reasons or to stop immigration, but simply to allow law enforcement to find out who is in our country without facing an undocumented pool of aliens that increases by the hour.