CIA Insider: The Threat We Refuse to Get
Sunday, July 11, 2004; Page B01
Note from Outlook: He may be the best-known "Anonymous" man in Washington these days. Over the past two weeks, he has appeared for interviews -- always in the shadows, his face unseen -- on almost every national television network. He is a 23-year veteran of the CIA and the author of a new book, "Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror." As a CIA employee, he had to submit his manuscript for agency review. The CIA allowed him and his Virginia publisher, Brassey's, to go ahead with the book on the condition that he maintain his anonymity.
By requiring him to withhold his identity but allowing him to publish as Anonymous, the CIA has actually drawn attention to the book (it briefly alighted on Amazon.com's best-selling top 10 last week). That prompted the Washington speculation machine to wonder whether the book somehow serves the CIA's interests.
At this point, his name is about the only basic biographical detail that hasn't become known. He writes in his book that he has spent most of his career at "headquarters," where he has worked as an analyst for the past 17 years, "focusing exclusively on terrorism, Islamic insurgencies, militant Islam and the affairs of South Asia." Other biographical details come from reporters and published reports: From 1996 until he was transferred in 1999, he was in charge of a special office set up to oversee the intelligence effort on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. His transfer wasn't voluntary; his blunt manner and strident views apparently did not sit well with some in the intelligence community, and he was taken off the al Qaeda portfolio. He returned to the counterterrorism field on Sept. 12, 2001, but not specifically to the al Qaeda desk. He has told interviewers that he wrote "Imperial Hubris" to send a message, and he minces no words in his criticism of White House and CIA leade
rship. An example: He scorns "senior leaders" as "moral cowards" for ignoring warnings he says they received about al Qaeda.
An ardent critic of intelligence officials and political leaders who leak classified information to the media, he says that he used only unclassified material in writing the book.
Outlook selected portions from various sections of "Imperial Hubris," rather than a single excerpt, and condensed them to provide a more thorough picture of the book's arguments. The selections are grouped by subject.
Hated For Our Policies, Not Our Values
One of the greatest dangers for Americans in deciding how to confront the Islamist threat lies in continuing to believe -- at the urging of senior U.S. leaders -- that Muslims hate us and attack us for what we are and what we think, rather than for what we do. The Islamic world is not so offended by our democratic system of politics, guarantees of personal rights and civil liberties, and separation of church and state that it is willing to wage war against overwhelming odds to stop Americans from voting, speaking freely, and praying, or not, as they wish. With due respect for those who have concluded that we are hated for what we are, think and represent, I beg to disagree and contend that your conclusion is errant and potentially fatal nonsense.
While important voices in the United States claim the intent of U.S. policy is misunderstood by Muslims, they are wrong. America is hated and attacked because Muslims believe they know precisely what the United States is doing in the Islamic world. They know partly because of Osama bin Laden's words, partly because of satellite television, but mostly because of the tangible reality of U.S. policies. We are at war with an al Qaeda-led, worldwide Islamic insurgency to defend those policies -- and not, as President Bush mistakenly has said, "to defend freedom and all that is good and just in the world."
Keep in mind how easy it is for Muslims to hate the six U.S. policies bin Laden repeatedly refers to as anti-Muslim:
• U.S. support for Israel that keeps Palestinians in the Israelis' thrall.
• U.S. and other Western troops on the Arabian Peninsula.
• U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
• U.S. support for Russia, India and China against their Muslim militants.
• U.S. pressure on Arab energy producers to keep oil prices low.
• U.S. support for apostate, corrupt and tyrannical Muslim governments.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company