Former bin Laden tracker calls for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistanhttp://www.buffalonews.com/
Published: April 19, 2010, 9:38 pm
SANBORN — The United States should withdraw its forces from Afghanistan if it's not going to send enough troops to win, a former intelligence agent said Monday night.
Michael F. Scheuer, who was in charge of the Central Intelligence Agency's hunt for terrorist kingpin Osama bin Laden, told a small audience at Niagara County Community College that the U.S. would do itself a favor by withdrawing from the entire Middle East "to the greatest extent compatible with our national interest."
He said the U.S. needs to return to the Founding Fathers' foreign policy of self-defense and setting a democratic example for the world, instead of trying to export our system by force.
"No young man or woman should die for the insane goal of giving Iraq or Iran a democratic government," said Scheuer, a Buffalo-area native who earned a bachelor's degree at Canisius College and a master's degree at Niagara University.
He was in charge of the bin Laden tracking team from 1996 to 1999 and was a special advisor to the unit's new chief for three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
He said that the U.S. stands little chance of killing the al-Quida chief.
"It's a very long shot. He has a very good chance of dying of old age," Scheuer said. "The great bulk of our forces have nothing to do with going after Osama bin Laden, who's probably not in Afghanistan anyway.
"If we're not going to go after him whole hog, which we haven't done since 2001, we might as well leave it to the methods the last two presidents have decided was sufficient, which is the intelligence services and the drones and the special forces."
Scheuer also said America needs to realize that its interests are not the same as those of Israel.
"The idea that 300 million Americans are bound to bleed because God gave a group of people a deed to a plot of land 3,000 years ago is quite mad," he said.
Scheuer said Iran is isolated, surrounded by countries with U.S. military bases and saddled with an economy dependent on oil, whose production has peaked.
But he said a first strike on Iran would provoke terror attacks on our soil.
The 20-year CIA veteran said Iran and its allies among the Arabs have a network of cells in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, ready to retaliate, "thanks to criminal neglect of our border security for the past 35 years."
As for Afghanistan, Scheuer admitted that the U.S. would suffer a serious loss of prestige by giving the country back to the Taliban it defeated in 2001.
But he asked, "Do you take that result or do you let your army bleed to death? ... We are probably 400,000 [troops] short in Afghanistan of what we need to prevail."
Scheuer said neither President Bush nor President Obama has ever defined what would be meant by winning.
"We'll have a chance to fight them again somewhere else," Scheuer said.
He said the U.S. needs to establish its energy independence or be faced with no option but war if foreign sources of oil are threatened.
"Demands for protection for Arctic rabbits, Gulf shrimp or the sunny beaches of California at the cost of dead Marines or soldiers," he said, "should be ignored."