In today’s White House Watch column, Dan Froomkin brings up a topic which has been much on my mind lately: Osama bin Laden. Not the man himself, but this Administration’s criminally sloppy pursuit of him. In a column titled “Bush’s Bin Laden Craving,” Froomkin observes that
There are new signs today that President Bush is pulling out all the stops to capture or kill Osama bin Laden before his term is up — or better yet, before the November election.
The entire column deserves to be read — needs to be read, if you still harbor any doubts about the incompetence, megalomania, and folly which have been the hallmarks of the Bush regime. The part which interests me most at the moment is a reference to Bob Woodward’s new book on the Bush Administration. There, and in an interview with Terry Gross, Woodward refers to a new “thing” which been introduced into the fighting in Iraq… and, it’s fair to assume, in Afghanistan as well. I say a “thing” because Woodward is deliberately evasive, refusing to make clear whether this new ingredient in the war is tactical or technological or cultural. He speaks of it as “as series of operations that have been developed that allow US forces to locate, target, and kill extremists, al Quaeda members, and members of the insurgency.”
“Locate, target, and kill.” That’s what this new “thing” enables us to do and what –if you read the excerpts from Woodward’s book in the Post — is what gives Bush his biggest rush these days: hearing about people getting killed.
And who, getting back to the Froomkin column, does Bush want most to kill? Why, Osama bin Laden, the man who brought about 9/11, the man we set out to capture when we invaded Afghanistan, the man who escaped at Tora Bora when we screwed up the operation, the man who remains at large because Bush suddenly decided that Iraq was a bigger danger — or a bigger opportunity — and the man who, Bush suddenly realizes, stands as a symbol of the entire Administration’s string of relentless failures.
But now we have a “thing” which enables us to locate, target, and kill people like bin Laden. And we have the Administration coming to an end. And we have an epochal election in the making. And we have the seventh anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow. Am I being cynical to think Bush — and indirectly, McCain — would be substantially more than happy to learn that ObL had been brought down, sometime right about now?
I have a few ideas about the nature of this super-secret “thing” which Woodward — and now others — refer to. I’ll come back to the subject and, if my ideas still make any sense after serious reflection, I’ll append them here.