Monday 2 September 2002

The source of all evil

Anonymous 'intelligence officials' are preparing us all for war

by Peter Preston

When, long ago, Woodward and Bernstein found Deep Throat, they also found double trouble. A single source, according to the Washington Post house rules, wasn't enough. You had to have two separate ones to write the story that destroyed Richard Nixon. But that was politics, not war. And we live in more self-interested times.
This morning, there's Kerim Chatty, a Swede who was going to crash a plane into a US embassy, according to Swedish military intelligence sources. Or wasn't, according to Swedish police sources. Who had four accomplices, or worked alone (same sources). To this confusion, CIA, FBI and Scotland Yard sources added their bemused little codicils.

New questions for old. Where is Osama bin Laden? The Financial Times, in a report from Islamabad, has "Pakistan security officials" conducting the last rites: "Osama, who was not too well when last year's attacks happened, could not have survived the attacks on Tora Bora," according to "an unidentified senior Pakistani".

Excellent. He's toast, as American generals tend to put it when they talk to the New York Post. Unless, of course, he's in Pakistan (the Afghan security verdict as peddled by Kabul's foreign ministry). Is there "convincing proof" one way or the other? Nope: there is no such proof, according to General Tommy Franks, duly advised by the CIA and army intelligence. Bin Laden could be anywhere or nowhere. But luckily "we don't have to find him, because we are going to shut down his terrorist apparatus", according to the chaps who brief General Dan McNeill. Al-Qaida "is toast" says the NY Post.

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