In a speech in Ohio on Thursday John McCain laid out his vision for his putative presidency. Perhaps the most striking part was the claim that by the end of his four year-term in 2013 the global war on terrorism would be effectively over—Osama bin Laden and his key lieutenants would be behind bars or dead; al Qaeda would no longer have a safe haven on the Afghan-Pakistan border; the Taliban would be largely out of business; al Qaeda in Iraq defeated; the Iraq War “won,” and no major terrorist attack would have taken place in the United States.

Thursday, May 08, 2008 Bin Laden or Bust

Dude! What a rad plan! Kicking back over drinks at Bungalow 8, the hard-to-get-into Manhattan nightclub, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock hatched the idea of a humorous documentary and book about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Your average auteur would wake up the next morning back in his Brooklyn crib, reach for the Advil and realize that searching for the largest mass murderer in U.S. history is about as funny as a pounding hangover.

Monday, May 05, 2008 Baitullah Mehsud, TIME 100

For Pakistanis, the Dec. 27 assassination of Benazir Bhutto was the J.F.K. murder and 9/11 rolled into one, plunging the nation into days of mourning and setting off riots across the country. It was a stunning victory for Pakistan’s militants, who have increasingly turned their firepower against the state, conducting more than 50 suicide attacks in 2007 alone.

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2008 TLS review

We were all frightened by the destruction caused on 9/11. Yet most of us, regardless of political orientation, assumed that there would be people in the intelligence services or in academia who possessed detailed knowledge about the jihadists. It might take time, and we might disagree on the methods, but the experts would eventually bring the perpetrators to justice. How wrong we were. Of course, the CIA knew the basics about al-Qaeda, such as the location of the Afghan training camps and the approximate whereabouts of the top leadership. But as Osama bin Laden slipped out of Tora Bora one foggy morning in early December 2001, al-Qaeda left the realm of tactical intelligence and became the complex organization-cum-movement which, six years later, we are still struggling to understand. For a few years, the commanders of the so-called War on Terror enjoyed the benefit of the doubt. After all, we did not know what they knew. However, it has become increasingly clear how little was known about al-Qaeda back in 2001, and how long it will take for us thoroughly to understand the dynamics of global jihadism.

The hunt is going poorly. It’s now more than six years since the 9/11 attacks, yet al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden remains at large. Some reading this may think: But what’s the proof that he is still alive? Plenty. Since 9/11 bin Laden has released a slew of video-and audiotapes many of which discuss current events. In two such tapes released in March 2008 bin Laden accused Pope Benedict XVI of aiding a “new Crusade” against Muslims and promised there would be a “severe” reaction for the 2006 Danish newspaper cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad.’ In the other tape he said the suffering of the Palestinians was amplified when Arab leaders supported an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference hosted by the US government in Annapolis, Maryland last November.’

Friday, Apr 04, 2008 TLS review of the OBL I Know

From a historical perspective, this ignorance about the enemy makes the war on terror unique. Rarely have so many resources been deployed on the basis of such a vague understanding about who the enemy is and how it functions.

An extraordinary rendition may be defined as the extrajudicial transfer of an individual to a country where there is reasonable probability he will be tortured. In our research we have counted 67 known cases of extraordinary rendition by the United States since 1995. While the details are often incomplete, they help paint a more complete picture of this secretive and controversial Central Intelligence Agency program.

Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 Al Qaeda and Torture

Three years after the attacks, the murderers were sentenced to life without parole. Instead of becoming martyrs, they will languish in obscurity in a high-security American prison until they die. It’s hard to imagine a better outcome for the victims’ families or the American public.

Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 I was Kidnapped by the CIA

The abduction and “extraordinary rendition” of Abu Omar was a remarkable tale of CIA overreach that could represent the beginning of a global legal backlash against the war on terror.

Pakistan is in many ways the central front of the war on terror. US officials say that both the Taliban and al Qaeda are headquartered there. Al Qaeda directed the 2005 attacks on London’s transportation system which killed 52 commuters from Pakistan. The unsuccessful 2006 plot to bring down ten American airliners with liquid explosives in the United Kingdom was hatched in Pakistan, and the alleged terrorists who planned to attack an American air force base in Germany last year trained in Pakistan