A careful reading of the NIE on The Terrorist Threat to the Homeland fails to reveal any empirical or intelligence data to justify the conclusions. For example, if we had intelligence that an increasing number of foreigners had crossed into Waziristan during the last three years, received training, and departed the area then there would be some legitimate basis for concern about a “regenerated” Al-Qa’ida. But no such evidence or facts are proffered to make such a case. That is odd. Even in unclassified key judgments one should expect some reference to the underlying data supporting the assessment that a capability has regenerated. But there is none.
More troubling is the underlying assumption that there are active training camps in this area? Really? Then why are they still standing? Why have we not seen a smoking hole in the ground where these alleged camps once stood? George Bush promised in the wake of 9-11 that a country must decide if it is with us or against us. And that countries that harbored terrorists would pay a price.
Let’s concede that the Waziristan portion of Pakistan is wild and ungovernable by the authorities in Islamabad. If there are such camps then Predator drones armed with hellfire missiles should be taking those camps out. If people trained in those camps are coming out equipped to do terror why have none been arrested or detained?
I agree that Osama Bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri want bad things to happen to Americans and American cities. But their malevolent intent and desires do not translate into hard capabilities. So what is up DNI Director Mike McConnell? Is the DNI and the NIC confusing their fears with reality? It sure looks like it. It is time for the Senate and House intelligence committees to get some firm, clear answers.
I think there is one thing that is still true, we are terrified of dudes in ski-masks using "the monkey bars".