Wishful thinking dept.

Does the claim that bin Laden is “isolated” and that “seventy-five percent of his people have been brought to justice” mean that the President thinks al-Qaeda is no longer a threat?

Mr. Bush made at least two comments Thursday night he can and should be made to regret. One has been commented on: his seeming objection to doing homeland security right on the grounds that it would cost money.

The other hasn’t been noticed, or if it has I haven’t noticed the noticing. Responding to Kerry’s complaint that Bush diverted to Iraq forces that should have been hunting down al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, thus blowing the chance to capture bin Laden. Bush responded that bin Laden is “isolated” and that “seventy-five percent of his people have been brought to justice.”

Question for the President: Does that mean that you think that al-Qaeda is no longer a threat to the U.S.?

I’m told that, according to U.S. intelligence estimates, al-Qaeda has three times as many members now as it did on 9-11, and that the leadership killed or captured has been replaced. If so, Bush’s answer seems to reflect a dangerous complacency.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com