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Friday, January 20, 2006

Scheuer sets o Liely straight 

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BILL O'REILLY [FOX NEWS]: More threats from Bin Laden. In an audio tape broadcast by Al-Qaeda's best friend, Al-Jazeera, the terrorist Bin Laden says Al-Qaeda is planning a new attack on American soil. Joining us now from Washington, Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Bin Laden unit, and author of the best-selling book, Imperial Hubris. Mr Scheuer, it looks like a real tape. CIA says it's real, says this guy's still alive, and what do you think he's trying to accomplish here?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: What he's doing here, Mr O'Reilly, is again, as he did with the Europeans, giving the Americans one last warning before he attacks us. And he's very much speaking not only to Americans but to the Islamic world. Warning your enemy before you attack him is very much a tradition in Islam, from the Prophet to the times when Saladin was fighting the Crusaders. He would warn them, he would offer them a truce, he would try to go the extra mile before attacking him. So I think it's very important that we understand the context in which Bin Laden is speaking. Because I've heard other people today already saying that he's offering a truce because it's a sign of weakness, because we're beating him. And I think that's pretty far from the truth.

O'REILLY: But doesn't he have to save face in the Arab world, after the drone attack in Pakistan, and the Pakistani authorities say that a couple of big-shot Al-Qaedas were knocked out. It looks like the insurgents in Iraq are fighting Al-Qaeda. It looks like they are taking it on the chin. Doesn't he have to do something to rally his terror forces?

SCHEUER: I think, Mr O'Reilly, that in total we've overestimated the damage we've done to Al-Qaeda, and certainly in Iraq I think a lot has been made of one or two instances of conflict between one set of fighters and Al-Qaeda fighters. But in the bigger sense, it's always been a belief in the American government that, if someone doesn't attack us when we think he's going to, that he'll lose support in the Islamic world. And of course nothing happens in the Islamic world unless God wills it. If there's a failure, it's not exactly the failure of a person to carry out an attack. It's that God's will didn't, wasn't in favor of the attack at that moment. So, we very often try to put our way of thinking onto the enemy's way of thinking.

O'REILLY: I got it. So there's never a setback for Bin Laden. It's always Allah saying, for whatever reason, well I really didn't want anything to happen now.

SCHEUER: That's exactly right, sir. That's what gives them their steadfastness and their determination.

O'REILLY: Right. It wasn't our fault. It's that Allah just didn't sign on to murdering babies today.

SCHEUER: Well I think that might be a little strong, but--

O'REILLY: Well, I mean, you say it's a little strong, but aren't the Al-Qaedas murdering babies today? Are they not doing that?

SCHEUER: Well sure, sir. But I think we only bring that up because we somehow have convinced ourselves that war doesn't involve killing, and killing innocents.

O'REILLY: No no no, but I'm not bringing it up for that. I'm bringing it up to show the Islamic world, those Muslims who are watching us right now, the inconsistency of their thought. That, if there was a God that was actually wanting them to do whatever, how could He possibly want them to kill babies on any day? You know what I'm talking about?

SCHEUER: I don't quite follow it, sir. Because as much as I'd like to believe that human life is sacred in all instances, war, whether it's conducted by Americans or by British or by Chinese or by Muslims, war is just war. And it kills innocent people. And that's the way it is.

O'REILLY: But there's a way to wage it, and the way that the Al-Qaedas are waging it is by killing civilians. They are not waging in the conventional way, as you know.

SCHEUER: Well they are waging war in the conventional way that we waged war until 1945, sir, which is the last war we've won. Once we stopped waging war in the American fashion, we haven't won a war since.

O'REILLY: Well, I mean that's a good debate for another day. But I think that Americans in war wear uniforms, and fight for a flag. Al-Qaedas do not, and they attack civilian targets. And I'm not aware that Americans have done that in any of our wars, as a strategy. But I want to get one more--we had Dick Cheney in here talking to Neil Cavuto today.

SCHEUER: Yes, sir.

O'REILLY: Cheney comes in, and--number one, do you believe he's the chief architect in the War on Terror? Do you believe Cheney is the chief guy?

SCHEUER: I think the President is the chief guy, sir. But I certainly think that Mr Cheney has an awfully big role in both Iraq and the War on Terror.

O'REILLY: OK. Now he comes in, and he's very cool and confident, as he usually is. He doesn't do a lot of media, but when you see him he's cool and confident. And he basically says, look. We could get attacked, but we have done a tremendous amount of damage to Al-Qaeda. This is Dick Cheney saying this to Neil Cavuto. Do you believe that?

SCHEUER: No, sir. He's whistling past the graveyard, sir. They have a body count of how many people we've killed in Al-Qaeda, but they never have had an idea of how big Al-Qaeda was, or is. So when Mr Cheney says that, it's simply to me a sign of panic. Because if Al-Qaeda attacks us again in the United States, the United States has absolutely nothing to respond against. Unless we're willing to take out a city like Riyad or Cairo. The President and the Vice-President and Mr Clinton before them play a very dangerous game here. Because if we are attacked again, what do we respond against? And to think that somehow we're winning this war is really to fly in the face of reality, sir.

O'REILLY: Is there anything we can do to win it?

SCHEUER: Yes, sir. We certainly have to kill more of the enemy. That's the first step.

O'REILLY: Any way we can?

SCHEUER: Anywhere we can, whenever we can, without a great deal of concern for civilian casualties. As I said, war is war. The people who got killed when they were hosting Zawahiri to dinner were not the friends of the United States.

O'REILLY: All right, Mr Scheuer, always a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you very much for taking the time.

SCHEUER: It's always my pleasure, sir. Thank you.


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