Monday, July 10, 2006


The man who led America's hunt for Osama bin Laden has said the CIA was wrong to disband the only unit devoted entirely to the terrorist leader's pursuit - just at a time when al-Qaida is reasserting its influence over global jihad.

Shutting down the Bin Laden unit squandered 10 years of expertise in the war on terror, said Michael Scheuer, who founded the unit in 1995 and arguably knows more about Bin Laden than any other western intelligence official. He believes the unit was dismantled because of bureaucratic jealousies within the CIA, and that the closure delivers a further setback to a pursuit that has been squeezed for resources for the past two years.

"What it robs you of is a critical mass of officers who have been working on this together for a decade," he told the Guardian. "We had a breed of specialists rare in an intelligence community that prides itself on generalists. It provided a base from which to build a cadre of people specialising in attacking Sunni extremist operations, who sacrificed promotions and other emoluments in their employment in the clandestine service, where specialists were looked on as nerds."

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