TERRORISM SALON: Matthew Levitt on OBL vs. AQ

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(Matthew Levitt is a Senior fellow and Director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy). Peter’s is an excellent article. I’d submit, however, that it conflates Bin Laden with al Qaeda and I increasingly wonder if perhaps al Qaeda the organization has outgrown Bin Laden the man. After all, a persistent AQ threat does not mean Bin Laden is still calling the shots. Sadly, if it’s true that the organization has…

TERRORISM SALON: Peter Bergen on Why bin Laden Still Matters

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(Peter Bergen is a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation). Some of the issues in the final discussion I tried to address in a story for TIME earlier this month, so rather than rewriting that story I’m pasting it in below: Does Osama bin Laden matter anymore? You could be forgiven for thinking he doesn’t. In recent months, an impressive cast of terrorism experts and counterterrorism officials around the world has coalesced around the notion that al-Qaeda’s leader…

Eisenhower: Republican Party is Running Out of Ideas

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Life long Republican and granddaughter of Ike, Susan Eisenhower, said today on an Obama campaign conference call featuring campaign manager David Plouffe and herself that while she truly regrets it, the direction John McCain has been pressured to go is showing that “the Republican Party is running out of ideas.” She also said that “The world is watching. This is a unique opportunity to restore confidence in the country.” She’s right — and what really interests me is what Eisenhower…

TERRORISM SALON: Paul Cruickshank on the Limits of Home-Grown Cells

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(Paul Cruickshank is a Fellow at the NYU Center on Law and Security). Although there have undoubtedly been more plots launched by home-grown cells in the West since 9/11 than by Al Qaeda, the evidence suggests that the most dangerous plots, such as the July 2005 London bombings and the 2006 airlines plot, have all been directed by Al Qaeda. Although Matt Levitt is right to point out that the genesis of the Madrid bombings remains somewhat murky, there is…

STREAMING LIVE TODAY: Sidney Blumenthal on the Demise of the Republican Party

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Recently, I hosted Grover Norquist speaking about the Republican party and conservative movement, and indirectly what he saw as the continued constraints on Democrats. Today, Sidney Blumenthal — one of the most insiderish of insiders in HillaryLand — will speak about his new book The Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party at the New America Foundation from 12:15 pm – 1:45 pm EST. The meeting at New America is titled “Did America Shift Too Far to…

Conservative Credit Card King Says Iraq War Wrecking American Economy

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Richard Vague is a conservative businessman disgusted with the party he has belonged to for a very long time. He was the Founding CEO of the former First USA Bank which ran at the time the largest credit card operation in the United States. He later started a group called AmericanRespect.com, promoting American internationalism and trying to get the American government to demonstrate respect for other peoples and nations abroad. He also wrote for me a piece called “Terrorism: A…

TERRORISM SALON: Matthew Levitt on the False Dichotomy

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(Matthew Levitt is a Senior fellow and Director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy). The either-or nature of the question misses the point. The reality is that we face BOTH a decentralized Al Qaeda manifested by self-radicalized or homegrown “bunches of guys” for whom the al Qaeda name is just a brand or symbol AND a centralized, core al Qaeda group which is still plotting and planning attacks from the…

Promoting Democracy: Lessons From Turkey

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Last night, Turkey’s staunchly secular Constitutional Court decided against throwing out the ruling, moderately Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP). The decision, which cut Prime Minister Erdogan’s party’s public financing in half and warned it to abide by Turkey’s strictly secular constitution, averted a potential political crisis. Prime Minister Erdogan celebrated the decision, claiming a victory for democracy and stability. Meanwhile, Onur Oymen, the deputy chairman of the secular opposition Republican People’s Party, expressed confidence that the court’s decision will…

TERRORISM SALON: Fourth (and Final) Prompt — OBL and Al Qaeda

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Is Osama bin Laden still relevant? Or rather, is the threat more from a reconstituted, centralized Al Qaeda, or from more local groups radicalized by preachers or outside forces? (See the recent arguments between Marc Sageman and Bruce Hoffman). Also interesting to consider is how centralized Al Qaeda was before September 11, looking at the scope of its attacks both prior to and after September 11. Which is more dangerous, a decentralized Al Qaeda operating as a symbol, or a…