As I watched former CIA director George Tenet's defensive, pitiful performance on 60 Minutes last night, his remarks crystallized in my mind what I have believed for some time now.
Our leaders do not understand the Muslim world, the Muslim faith, the Muslim mind.
Tenet's CIA had a vague sense that something wicked was on the way -- yet they lacked the ability to infiltrate the very terrorist organization that was front and center in 9/11.
The vague warnings were conveyed to an administration who were similarly ignorant as well. And when we got hit, they had no idea of Al-Queda's second-strike capability.
It was at that time that the administration betrayed their lack of knowledge by going into CYA mode and automatically assuming the worst- loose nukes in New York, crop dusters killing millions with anthrax, all sorts of scary warnings.
Rather than keep our retaliatory assets in Afghanistan, we shifted most of them to Iraq.
We tried to infiltrate the bad guys, but I have to tell you. Taking a straightlaced CIA agent from Alabama or Utah, having him take eight weeks or Arab or Pashto immersion classes and then having him grow a beard to pass as a local hasn't helped us fiind Osama.
Our lack of ability to infiltrate yet another Muslim nation created the urge for more CYA, and the falsehoods about WMD. You know, when you don't lnow what you don't know, the best ass-cover is to assume the worst- Saddam was going to give smallpox to Al-Queda and they were going to use it in the New York City subway.
Meanwhile we had decision makers (such as the FBI's then-counterterrorism director Dale Watson) get tripped up by an interviewer who asked him the difference between Sunni and Shi'a.
Our lack of understanding of the feuds within Islam, and the differences & hostilities between secular Muslim leader such as Saddam and religious fanatics like Osama set the table for a futile war.
This was supposed to be a war where we were to be greeted as liberators.
Except for sections of Kurdish Iraq, that didn't happen. An administration with the werewithal to understand the Muslim world, and the tenacity to infiltrate its more nefarious governments and terrorist organizations might have let us know what was, and is, in the offing.
But we now live under an administration that outs CIA agents, lies about WMD and has no exit strategy for Iraq.
And who still doesn't understand the Muslim world.