This week, President Hamid Karzai was the subject of an attempted assassination plot, allegedly launched by the Taliban, which narrowly escaped. In a Rose Garden press conference yesterday, ABC’s Martha Raddatz asked Bush to comment on the status of Afghanistan in light of the assassination plot:
RADDATZ: Are we winning in Afghanistan?
BUSH: I think we’re making progress in Afghanistan [...]
Q: But do you think we’re winning? Do you think we’re winning?
BUSH: I do, I think we’re making good progress. I do, yes.
In contrast, today, the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism. The opening lines of the report are a stark departure from Bush’s blind optimism:
Al-Qa’ida (AQ) and associated networks remained the greatest terrorist threat to the United States and its partners in 2007. It has reconstituted some of its pre-9/11 operational capabilities through the exploitation of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), replacement of captured or killed operational lieutenants, and the restoration of some central control by its top leadership, in particular Ayman al-Zawahiri.
In Afghanistan and surrounding areas, State Department notes, al Qaeda now has “greater mobility” in the region:
Despite the efforts of both Afghan and Pakistani security forces, instability, coupled with the Islamabad brokered cease-fire agreement in effect for the first half of 2007 along the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, appeared to have provided AQ leadership greater mobility and ability to conduct training and operational planning, particularly that targeting Western Europe and the United States. … AQ leaders continued to plot attacks and to cultivate stronger operational connections that radiated outward from Pakistan to affiliates throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.
The report also notes that terrorist attacks in Afghanistan increased 16 percent last year, which was the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said last week, “This year won’t be different.”