The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

10000% worth it

With regards to Michael Scheuer's complaint that the Arab uprisings may have benefited al-Qaeda (via Angry Arab):

Speaking at the Edinburgh international book festival, Michael Scheuer said: "The help we were getting from the Egyptian intelligence service, less so from the Tunisians but certainly from the Libyans and Lebanese, has dried up – either because of resentment at our governments stabbing their political leaders in the back, or because those who worked for the services have taken off in fear of being incarcerated or worse.

"The amount of work that has devolved on US and British services is enormous, and the result is blindness in our ability to watch what's going on among militants."

The Arab spring, he said, was "an intelligence disaster for the US and for Britain, and other European services".

[. . .]

He said: "The rendition programme must come back – the people we have in custody now are pretty long in the tooth, in terms of the information they can provide in interrogations.

"The Arab spring has been a disaster for us in terms of intelligence gathering, and we now are blind both because of the Arab spring and because there is nothing with which to replace the rendition programme."

Quite aside that I won't really miss intelligence cooperation on rendition, torture and the training of security and intelligence officers (all things that should be investigated — for instance FBI access to the Ministry of Interior in Egypt, or the training that State Security officers received at FBI tranining facilities in Virginia), the bigger picture makes this so irrelevant I find it hardly worth bringing up.