|I just finished this book. I admit I was a little worried about it when I read that Ms. Corbin is a BBC correspondent, given their avowed "we hate Bush" stance, but apparently the BBC still has some genuine correspondents left. It's a singularly impressive work. Among her conclusions:
* Osama isn't the fearless Russian killer he wants everyone to think. It's questionable if he ever saw action, though he was definitely in Afghanistan.
* Osama is not a champion of the poor Arab masses, but a bored rich kid who went to Afghanistan (as so many young Arabs did) to find themselves. He liked it so much that he wanted to keep it going, and settled on the US as the next target, as the Soviet Union had been defeated.
* Osama declared war on the US Noreiga-style, and stated as his intention to slay every American on the planet. His followers are eager to do so. He also wants to found a Shari'a empire, with himself at its head. And people believe we can negotiate with people like this? On Watch's comparison to a cancer is quite appropriate.
* A great deal of Muslims would cheerfully like to see Osama's head on a spike. Al-Qaeda almost came apart when its members learned that most of the people killed in Kenya and Tanzania were Muslim--and that Osama didn't give a damn. He found a fatwa to back him up, of course, which smoothed things over.
* Osama doesn't know the West as well as he thinks he does. Nor is al-Qaeda perfect; they've actually made some monumental mistakes.
* The US owes more of a debt to the staff of Northwest and American Airlines than it does to the FBI and the CIA. It was a suspicious Northwest instructor that tipped the FBI to Moussaoui, and an American Airlines stewardess who figured out Richard Reid was up to no good.
* Worcester's idea of reforming the FBI and CIA into a British style MI5 and MI6 might not work, as both of those agencies fight turf wars every bit as bitter as their American cousins.
*9/11 was a classic case of the pieces being there for all to see, but no one putting them together.
* GW Bush was far more responsible in keeping current with intelligence than Clinton. According to Corbin, Bush's biggest sin was not being blessed with the ability to perfectly read the future.
* Clinton should be the one being grilled by the 9/11 commission for screwing up in spades, not Bush. Remember, this is the *BBC* that's saying this. Clinton's record in the 1990s in regards to funding and treating the CIA is sickening. My opinion of Clinton used to be was that he was a fairly decent man with bad tools; I'm beginning to believe that, at least when it comes to foreign policy, the man was grossly incompetent. Albright seemed to have her head on straight at times, but the same can't be said for Aspin and Cohen.
* The CIA is in desperate need of reform, in a damn near Stalin-style purge.
Read this book. I don't agree with everything she says, but she is worth listening to. Know your enemy--who, for the entire, non-Shari'a practicing world, is Osama bin Laden.