Bush's missing bin Laden plan

GAO report finds the administration has no comprehensive strategy for eliminating al-Qaida sanctuary in Pakistan's tribal region.

Published April 17, 2008 6:30PM (EDT)

To hear the White House tell it, protecting the United States and its interests against al-Qaida is the government's top priority. It makes revelations like these all the more alarming.

The Bush administration doesn't have a comprehensive strategy for eliminating Osama bin Laden's sanctuary in Pakistan's tribal region and preventing the region from being used for launching terrorist attacks on the United States, the investigative arm of Congress said Thursday.

President Bush and his senior lieutenants frequently claim that eradicating the threat that bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network poses to United States and its allies is their top national-security priority.

But in a scathing report, the Government Accountability Office said there was no plan that "includes all elements of national power -- diplomatic, military, intelligence, development assistance, economic and law enforcement support -- called for by the various national-security strategies and Congress."

The administration's own counterterrorism policy and the mission of the National Counter-Terrorism Center mandate that officials have a "comprehensive strategy for meeting U.S. national-security goals" in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. The GAO, however, found that no such strategy currently exists.

"It is appalling that there is still no comprehensive, interagency strategy concerning this critical region, and this lack of foresight is harming U.S. national security," said Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, which requested the report.

At Democracy Arsenal, Max Bergmann added that the GAO report "may be the most damning condemnation of the Bush administration's counter-terrorism efforts."

I can't wait to hear the White House's spin on this one.

By Steve Benen

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