Thursday, February 7, 2008

Bush's Failure: Intelligence Chief Cites Qaeda Threat to U.S.

It must be an election year if the White House starts talking about the rising threat from al Qaeda. But what does this say about Bush's presidency, which has largely been focused on defeating the Jihadists? It means he failed at his principle responsibility. It also discredits the Iraq War which we have been told is being fought to keep al Qaeda from following us home:

Al Qaeda is gaining in strength from its refuge in Pakistan and is steadily improving its ability to recruit, train and position operatives capable of carrying out attacks inside the United States, the director of national intelligence told a Senate panel on Tuesday.

The director, Mike McConnell, told lawmakers that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, remained in control of the terrorist group and had promoted a new generation of lieutenants. He said Al Qaeda was also improving what he called “the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S.” — producing militants, including new Western recruits, capable of blending into American society and attacking domestic targets.

A senior intelligence official said Tuesday evening that the testimony was based in part on new evidence that Qaeda operatives in Pakistan were training Westerners, most likely including American citizens, to carry out attacks. The official said there was no indication as yet that Al Qaeda had succeeded in getting operatives into the United States.

The testimony, in an annual assessment of the threats facing the United States, was the latest indication that Al Qaeda appears to have significantly rebuilt a network battered by the American invasion of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks.

It follows a National Intelligence Estimate last summer that described a resurgent Al Qaeda, and could add fuel to criticisms from Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates that the White House focus on Iraq since 2002 has diverted attention and resources from the battle against the Qaeda organization’s core.

Do We Have a Government at the Steering Wheel?

The economy is facing a crisis and the Congress can't seem to agree on what to do about it:

The fate of $600-$1,200 rebate checks for more than 100 million Americans is in limbo after Senate Republicans blocked a bid by Democrats to add $44 billion in help for the elderly, disabled veterans, the unemployed and businesses to the House-passed economic aid package.

GOP senators banded together Wednesday to thwart the $205 billion plan, leaving Democrats with a difficult choice either to quickly accept a House bill they have said is inadequate or risk being blamed for delaying a measure designed as a swift shot in the arm for the lagging economy.

The tally was 58-41 to end debate on the Senate measure, just short of the 60 votes Democrats would have needed to scale procedural hurdles and move the bill to a final vote. In a suspenseful showdown vote that capped days of partisan infighting and procedural jockeying, eight Republicans—four of them up for re-election this year—joined Democrats to back the plan, bucking GOP leaders and President Bush, who objected to the costly add-ons.

Democrats choreographed the vote for maximum political advantage, presenting their aid proposal as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition for Republicans and calling back their presidential candidates to make a show of party unity behind their stimulus plan. They calculated that Republicans would pay a steep price for opposing rebates for older Americans and disabled veterans, as well as heating aid for the poor, unemployment benefits and a much larger collection of business tax breaks than the House approved.

Then there is the collapsing war in Afghanistan:
NATO's top official rejected on Thursday U.S. concern that some member countries were not pulling their weight in the fighting in Afghanistan.

On a visit to troops in Afghanistan with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice kept up the pressure on reluctant allies to share the combat burden against the Taliban.

The government in Afghanistan is worried that they might be abandoned:
The Afghan government warned Thursday of "catastrophe" if NATO abandoned its mission as US Secretarary of State Condoleezza Rice and her British counterpart flew into the heart of the Taliban insurgency.

"The consequences of not finishing the job here, and we have seen them first-hand in the events of September 11, will be catastrophic for the region and the world," President Hamid Karzai's spokesman Homayun Hamidzada told AFP.

There has been rising debate among NATO allies about the fight against radical Taliban insurgents, with calls for more help from those in the thick of the fight in the volatile south and some threats to pull out.