WASHINGTON - President Bush, trying to defend his war strategy, declassified intelligence Tuesday asserting that Osama bin Laden ordered a top lieutenant in early 2005 to form a terrorist cell that would conduct attacks outside Iraq — and that the United States should be the top target.There is no reason to believe that this, if true, was anything more than contingency planning on bin Laden's part. Two years ago al Qaeda was scrapping around for funds, and al Zarqawi would have been looking to al Qaeda for funding for efforts outside Iraq if he had any hot proposals.
The information mirrored a classified bulletin from the Homeland Security Department in March 2005, reporting that bin Laden had enlisted Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, his senior operative in Iraq, to plan potential strikes in the U.S. The warning was described at the time as credible but not specific and did not prompt the administration to raise its national terror alert level.
The declassification of the intelligence came a day before Bush was scheduled to speak about terrorism at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Besides, bin Laden and al Zarqawi had a very prickly relationship, and al Zarqawi did not take orders from bin Laden. At times they agreed to work in association, but neither trusted the other much, as I understand the situation from news reports.
In short, I strongly suspect that this is simply more Bush/Cheney disinformation caused primarily by the fact that Bush's latest poll ratings are lower than a snake's belly and dropping. It's the old "Get into low poll ratings, selectively declassify some Intelligence that makes Bush look good (while keeping the rest classified) game."
How many times does the little boy have to cry "Wolf" before everyone realizes he is doing it for attention, not because he sees a wolf?