We Are Very Good Drivers
May 11, 2005
By Sheila Samples
as Tim Russert solemnly announced on Meet the Press Sunday that
the "number three man" in the entire al-Qaeda network was now under
lock and key, the world edition of the Sunday Times quoted European
intelligence as saying that Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not only not
number three, he is not even a blip on the terrorist radar screen.
According to the Times, "No European or American intelligence
expert contacted last week had heard of al-Libbi until a Pakistani
intelligence report last year claimed he had taken over as head
of operations after Khalid Shaikh Mohammad's arrest. A former close
associate of Osama Bin Laden now living in London laughed - 'What
I remember of him is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying.'"
But Bush and his minions, joined by their Pakistani counterparts,
would not be denied their public victory dance, complete with back-slapping
and high-fives. "A critical victory in the war on terror," Bush
crowed, and added that the capture of this "major facilitator and
chief planner" for Osama bin Laden "removes a dangerous enemy who
is a direct threat to America and for those who love freedom."
Bush interrupted his attempts to destroy Social Security to laud
Musharraf: "I applaud the Pakistani government for their (sic) strong
cooperation in the war on terror," he said, adding that the Pakistanis
had acted on "solid intelligence" to bring him to justice and vowing
that those fighting terrorism will "stay on the offensive until
al-Qaida is defeated."
Although European terrorism experts pointed out that al-Libbi
was nowhere to be found on the FBI's most wanted list nor on the
State Department's "rewards for justice" list, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice gave an impressive Raymond Babbitt-like response,
saying robotically that al-Libbi is "a very important figure." (Babbitt,
if you remember, is the idiot/savant Rain Man character played
by Dustin Hoffman who drove the car back and forth in the driveway,
going nowhere, while repeating inanely, "I am a very good driver.")
As she congratulated Musharraf for his coup, Rice also revealed
that al-Libbi "is somebody we watched a lot every single day - he
is a very important figure for the Al Qaeda network." Then, Bush
press secretary Scott McClellan joined the fray, telling reporters
at the White House, "Al-Libbi's capture is a great success in the
global war on terrorism. He is one of al-Qaida's most senior operational
planners and one of the terrorist organization's top leaders."
How does he know that? The only thing actually known about this
Libyan national, other than he makes a mean cup of coffee and has
mastered the art of running a copy machine, is that he was involved
in two 2003 attempts to assassinate Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf.
Anybody see a pattern emerging here? Looks like somebody should
be asking where the actual al-Qaeda center of operations is - why
the majority of terrorists Bush wants "dead or alive" apparently
reside in Pakistan. Doesn't anybody wonder how, when the Bush administration
gets stuck in the driveway furiously driving nowhere, Musharraf
pulls another "number three" al-Qaeda leader out of his, um... hat?
American officials were given the opportunity to make a graceful
exit when it was revealed al-Libbi was possibly being confused with
fellow Libyan Abu al-Liby, a senior al-Qaeda commander who was indicted
for his role in the August 1998 bombings of two US embassies in
east Africa, and who is on the FBI's most wanted list. The Sunday
Times reported that when it contacted a senior FBI official for
information about al-Libbi's importance, the official inexplicably
sent material on al-Liby.
However, a U.S. counterterrorism official, who understandably
refused to be named, proclaimed the arrest of al-Libbi as the most
important blow to al-Qaeda since the arrest of Mohammad more than
two years ago, especially since al-Libbi had assumed Mohammad's
leadership position and was busily planning attacks against the
United States homeland.
It gets worse: U.S. officials explain craftily that the reason
al-Libbi's name is not on the FBI list is because "we did not want
him to know he was wanted."
So let me get this straight - here is a guy who is number three
in the al-Qaeda network; a guy so important that he became head
of operations when Khalid Shaikh Mohammad was captured; a guy known
to be planning a myriad of 9-11 attacks on our homeland - and we
don't want him to know he's wanted? None of that matters, according
to the official, whether it's Libbi or Liby, the important thing
is that his capture is smoking the evildoers out. "Whether big fry
or small fry," the official added lamely, "they're on the run, I
can tell you that."
No, the important thing here is that Bush and his unnamed intelligence
officials with the help of a complicit media are speaking only to
the American people; they are buying time with the American people.
When the proletariat begins to get restless - begins to ask why
Osama bin Laden or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are still on the loose,
or begins to writhe under the weight of lies, to feel the constraints
of the loss of freedoms, they are thrown the red meat of another
Abu-al-somebody and the danger of being exposed subsides for a time.
With the al-Libbi ploy falling flat on its face, few should be
surprised that CNN and FOX are back out there, breathlessly announcing
that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's "top aide" has been captured
in Bahgdad. FOX says his name is Ammar al-Zubaydi, also known as
Abu Abbas, and he's responsible for recent suicide car bombings,
as well as the devastating attack on Abu Ghraib prison in April.
But, wait - I thought the Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas was arrested
in April 2003, and that bin Laden and his henchmen were responsible
for... oh, never mind.
So, just where are bin Laden and al-Zarqawi? I guess if we're
ever going to snag these two, we're going to be forced to remove
their names from the FBI "to do" list so they won't suspect they're
wanted. We've come close to capturing bin Laden many times - even
visited him two months before 9-11 in a US hospital in Dubai where
he received treatment for his ailing kidneys - but like the persistent
ghost of a man who's been dead for years, Osama always manages to
slip noiselessly away.
Al-Zarqawi, a bogeyman of our own making, gets blamed for everything
- car bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, beheadings - and, apparently,
he is just as wily as bin Laden. In a recent incident in which Gen.
Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, bragged
they "almost got him," al-Zarqawi leapt from a speeding pickup truck
and fled on foot. A one-legged man of sub-par intelligence outrunning
a crack, highly-trained special forces team. I'd pay to see that
feat, wouldn't you?
Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi are ideological poles apart and, in real
life, would have no reason to team up or to have anything at all
to do with each other. But now, thanks to Bush, they are like two
evil, mischievious undead spirits, they appear only to create havoc
and, as Bush is wont to say, strike with sudden horror, and then
- poof! - they disappear into the atmosphere, leaving behind only
laptop computers, tapes, detailed plans and charts outlining their
next bit of bloody derring-do.
Whether they like it or not, we're going to keep nabbing their
"number three" men until we get it right and they are brought to
justice. So, if you see a 7-foot-tall bearded man in a dress dragging
around a dialysis machine, accompanied by a squat, fleet-footed
guy with only one leg, tell 'em they can run and they can hide,
but it won't do them any good - because we're hot on their trail.
Yes, indeedy. And we are very good drivers.
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former
civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor
for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at email@example.com.