January 10, 2005

Hands Off Bin Laden?

I never thought much of the CIA, and I still don’t. Articles like this one in the Times of London don’t inspire much confidence.

THE world may be better off if Osama Bin Laden remains at large, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s recently departed executive director.

If the world’s most wanted terrorist is captured or killed, a power struggle among his Al-Qaeda subordinates may trigger a wave of terror attacks, said AB “Buzzy” Krongard, who stepped down six weeks ago as the CIA’s third most senior executive.

“You can make the argument that we’re better off with him (at large),” Krongard said. “Because if something happens to Bin Laden, you might find a lot of people vying for his position and demonstrating how macho they are by unleashing a stream of terror.”
This little theory relies on the assumption that Al Qaeda is restraining itself at the moment. Otherwise, it’s absolute nonsense. Bin Laden’s buddies are already “unleashing a stream of terror.” They don’t need any more encouragement than they already have.
Several US officials have privately admitted that it may be better to keep Bin Laden pinned down on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan rather than make him a martyr or put him on trial. But Krongard is the most senior figure to acknowledge publicly that his capture might prove counter-productive.
Turning bin Laden into a martyr might not be ideal. But it sure beats leaving him alone so he can go on being a hero. Want to take care of bin Laden? Vanish him from the face of the earth. Turn him into the Jimmy Hoffa of terrorists.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 10, 2005 4:56 PM

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