George Bush Rolls The Dice On "Al Qaeda In Iraq" genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

High Stakes

If one listens to the President, we are fighting the war in Iraq so we don’t have to fight al Qaeda here in the homeland. Unfortunately, it appears that a number of high level officials in the United States failed to receive that particular talking points memo. Those speaking out may find themselves among the many military officials who have suddenly made their way to early retirement. Air Force General Victor “Gene" Renuart may be moving towards joining them.

WASHINGTON -- A top U.S. military commander said Tuesday he believes there are al-Qaeda cells in the United States - or people working to create them - and the military needs to triple its response teams to counter a growing threat of attack.

"I believe there are cells in the United States, or at least people who aspire to create cells in the United States," Renuart said in an interview with The Associated Press. "To assume that there are not those cells is naive and so we have to take that threat seriously."
As for attacks, he added: "Am I concerned that this will happen this summer? I have to be concerned that it could happen any day."

Renuart, who took over at U.S. Northern Command just four months ago, said the military has one brigade-size unit available to respond to nuclear, chemical and biological incidents at home. That number, he said, needs to grow to three. A brigade is about 3,500 troops.

Renuart said he has been working to improve the interaction between his office and the other intelligence agencies to ensure that information on terror threats is shared. That way, he said, the military will better be able to anticipate how terrorists might try to take advantage of any gaps or weaknesses in the system.

At the same time, he said it will be at least two years before he is able to pull together the military units he needs to better respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear disaster in the U.S.

My own observation is that Renuart’s comments are not what the President would want to hear on a day when he has gone on the offensive to convince Americans that our efforts in Iraq are the best means to confront al Qaeda.

The fact that the President said “al Qaeda" over ninety times in his speech in South Carolina this morning tells me that his goal is to once again connect the 9/11 terrorists with the war in Iraq…the one strategy that has, in the past, best served to win the support of the voting public and therefore advance the goals of the Bush administration.

The last thing President Bush needs is General Renuart pointing to the deficiencies in our Homeland Security as well as the fact that we are likely two years away from being prepared for a major strike by al Qaeda…especially in light of the recent attention being paid to the $592 billion dollar U.S. Embassy being constructed in Baghdad.

I doubt most Americans would view the more than half a billion dollars already spent on a behemoth fortress in Iraq as a prudent expenditure in light of the needs that remain unaddressed here on American soil. Additionally, most Americans know very little about the other U.S. military bases that are being built throughout Iraq.

At some point voters will begin to make the connection between the deficiencies pointed out by men like General Renuart and the $10 billion dollars being spent in Iraq on a monthly basis.

The Bush strategy is a calculated risk that could backfire if al Qaeda were able to execute a successful attack on American soil due to our lack of preparedness on the home front. Unfortunately, it is a risk that the President is willing to take. Worse yet, his reasons for such a gamble may be nothing more than foolish pride.

Let’s hope another 9/11 type strike doesn’t occur. While the President may possess the ability to justify the loss of American lives in Iraq and here at home, I doubt most voters will find the means to understand or forgive the cavalier decisions that may ultimately be determined to have facilitated or precipitated them.

Tagged as: 9/11, al Qaeda, Bush Administration, General Renuart, Homeland Security, Iraq, US Embassy

Daniel DiRito | July 24, 2007 | 6:45 PM
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