Speaking to reporters in Iowa today aboard his “brightly colored campaign bus,” Fred Thompson spoke about the war in Iraq and the war against terrorist networks. He claimed — without any evidence — that “Americans are beginning to move in his direction in their support for the war in Iraq.” He also dismissed the threat of Osama bin Laden:
Bin Laden is more symbolism than anything else. I think it demonstrates to people once again that we’re in a global war.
Thompson’s statement echoes the sentiments of President Bush, who in March 2002 said, “I truly am not that concerned about” bin Laden, and Ann Coulter, who said in Aug. 2006 said that bin Laden is “irrelevant.”
Yet bin Laden — the man who masterminded the attacks on 9/11 — is more than just a “symbol.” Today he issued a new videotape promising to “escalate the killing and fighting against you.”
In May, U.S. News reported that “bin Laden already has a safe haven in Pakistan — and may be stronger than ever” as al Qaeda “retains the ability to organize complex, mass-casualty attacks and inspire others.” Bin Laden is behind much of this resurgence:
The broader movement inspired by al Qaeda has only grown bigger, largely because of the group’s powerful propaganda machine. Bin Laden and Zawahiri have been able to fill in the gaps between their megaplots with a rising stream of smaller-scale, homegrown attacks.
U.S. intelligence officials are also now admitting that they overestimated the “damage they had inflicted on al Qaeda’s network,” with the war in Iraq serving as an “undeniable boon for al Qaeda.”
UPDATE: Kicking Ass notes that today on Good Morning America, Thompson said, “I think the point is clearly he’s there, clearly he’s somewhere along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and clearly he’s still giving orders.” Watch it: