Michael Scheuer

Bad Tidings in the Terror Wars


Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit and author of Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq, discusses his view that the U.S. betrayal of loyal dictator Musharraf is terrible for Pakistan and U.S. interests in the region, the rising hatred of U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim World, the detrimental effect of the U.S. government’s Israel-centric foreign policy, Ron Paul’s effort to explain to the American people why al Qaeda attacked us on 9/11, why a Ron Paul-style foreign policy would be the worst thing for them, energy independence, future war for oil in Nigeria, Cheney’s argument that al Qaeda in Iraq could ever take over that land, the failure of the media to challenge politicians on this point, his view that Obama, McCain and Clinton – due to their Israel-first stances – will stay in Iraq for at least the next four years, the danger to Israel posed by the neocons’ stupid policies, the extraordinary rendition program and his role in creating it, the necessity of figuring out a way to apply the rule of law to those detained in the terror war, torture, al Libbi’s tortured accusations of ties between Saddam and Osama, his CIA team’s proving that there were no such ties before the war, the strategy behind the September 11th attacks, the fact that Osama has explained exactly what that strategy is for 10 years, and a brief sketch of his new book.

MP3 here. (40:42)

Michael Scheuer is a 22-year veteran of the CIA and the author of Through Our Enemies Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America, Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraqand Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror.

50 thoughts on “Michael Scheuer”

  1. Scott Horton is an excellent interviewer. I only wish he had explored the angle where Scheuer broaches the possibility of Israel’s religious war with Muslims possibly coming to our streets if only just a little bit .

  2. I think Horton and Scheuer were talking past each other. Regardless if America is absent from the region, the oil will get to market. If anything, it will get to market more cheaply and more efficiently.

  3. Niccolo,

    I agree with you completely. I read both ‘Hubris’ and, so far, the first half of ‘Marching.’ While I am a fan of Scheuer’s work, I think he swings and misses on the whole energy issue. Not having troops in the ME has not prevented China, Japan, Germany, etc. from buying oil from these unstable regimes. I can’t imagine why the same would not be true for us. We should work towards alternative fuels when and if it makes economic sense to producers AND consumers. Scheuer’s argument for a government led effort has already borne lousy fruit, subsidzed by taxpayers, with no correspondent reduction in fuel cost (e.g. ethanol).

    Peace be with you.

  4. the mossad and cia were the masterminds of 9-11 not some 19 idiots from the caves of afghanistan none of those assholes would know how to fly a commercial airliner in fact one of the flight instructors stated that mohammed atta could not even fly a cessna the whole 9-11 episode is a total fabrication

  5. Sorry Darryl. Not buyin’ it.

    There are believable conspiracies (Dick Cheney’s ‘Energy Task Force’, PNAC etc), then there are unbelievable ones. If you start to think about the sheer number of people that would have needed to be ‘in on it’, the 9/11 conspiracies fall down.

    But I’ll grant that there is a grain of truth in it. For example, I don’t doubt for one second that Israeli intelligence, and possibly the highest political leadership, new exactly what was coming. It is possible, even likely, that some of their counterparts in US intelligence and even government knew what was coming, and chose to let it happen and become their Reichstag fire.

    And frankly, that is 99.99% as bad as if they’d planned the whole thing.

  6. As for Mr Scheuer’s comment that you have to detain people or you will have to ‘kill them on the battlefield’…


    Methinks this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    If I’d been kidnapped by thugs, sold to the Americans, had the shit beaten out of my at Bagram, been transferred to Egypt or Syria for some physical torture, been flown to Gitmo for some more ‘sophisticated’ but equally damaging ‘interrogation’…I’d be pretty fucking pissed off. In fact you would have made an implacable enemy of me. You might just end up having to kill me on the battlefield to.

  7. Redsaunas,

    You are far more tolerant than me. I just hope I could remember everyone who mistreated me.

  8. Economic ignorance is the main culprit. If Michael Scheuer does not understand the fact that there is no need whatsoever for the US to protect oil production, how could we blame our economically ignorant ideologues from making the same mistakes. Even if the “evil” Russians or Chinese were to fill our role there and decide not to sell oil to the US, a ridiculous scenario, a huge black market would develop to trade oil for US goods. As long as the US manages to fight its unproductive socialism at home and remains a productive nation, the incentives to trade for such goods is all that is needed to get the oil over here. There is no need for us to have a visible order be the one that gets the oil here. The social order that will pump the oil and get it over here will naturally emerge given the incentives for it. If there is an opportunity for profit, social order naturally emerges to exploit it WITHOUT A VISIBLE PLANNER.

    As C. Fountain said:

    “Not having troops in the ME has not prevented China, Japan, Germany, etc. from buying oil from these unstable regimes. I can’t imagine why the same would not be true for us.”

  9. “… I can’t imagine why the same would not be true for us.”

    Of course, all things being equal, I would rather not sell to a country that destroyed mine. But oil being fungible, we would still get the oil but not necessarily through US
    oil companies. Is this what it is really about, stinking profits for US oil companies?

  10. It is certainly very interesting take on world affairs. I respect Michael Scheuer for his knowledge on this subject, and am pleased that he’s looking at the world politics without any prejudice or bias towards a “side”, and supporting intellectual honesty.

  11. According to Dr Bob Bowman, former chief of US Air Force Missile Defense, missile defense is the missing link to a First Strike. Dr Bob Bowman thinks missiles in Poland will be very useful to shoot down any surviving Russian missiles after a First Strike. Therefore the Russians will implement Launch On Warning. The terrible consequences of a mistake will be caused by the stupid Pentagon. Dr Bob Bowman agrees that the Pentagon (McCain?) will get disarming first-strike capability by 2011/12. Acc. to former Trident missile engineer Bob Aldridge-www.plrc.org-the US Navy can track and destroy all enemy subs simultaneously. The main danger is Russian Launch On Warning because of US First-Strike Capability. Please read Keir Lieber and Daryl Press, “The Rise of US Nuclear Primacy”, 2006 March/April issue of Foreign Affairs. By 2011/12 the Pentagon will have achieved that the Russians have no choice but Launch On Warning. “Bloody fools in the Pentagon”, as Brigadier Harbottle stated.

  12. If Ron Paul were President the Middle East would be in shambles and little oil would be reaching any country. Imagine oil wells aflame throughout the Middle East, unstable and collapsing governments and oil prices at $300 per barrel. Factor in also a pre-emptive nuclear strike by Israel against Iran. Ron Paul would be Osama’s biggest ally, followed by Obama and then Clinton.

  13. Tony, if Ron Paul were President, his policies would remove the Islamists’ biggest beefs against the US. Not that that should be our intent – our intent is not to act according to the wishes of hostile agents, but to pursue America’s true self-interest. The nightmare scenario you conjure up has little basis. It’s true that some of the governments might fall (well, maybe not the well-entrenched House of Saud) but as Scheuer says, how does that affect us one lick? It’s unrealistic to think the US keeps peace already, and it’s even more unrealistic to think we can transform Middle Eastern countries into tolerant, secular democracies by force.

  14. Tom, you’re assuming, of course, that the the Islamists would be content with a U.S. retreat from the Middle East and the destruction of Israel. Their ambitions go well beyond that. The destruction of Western democracies and Islamic global domination are their ultimate goals. Victory over the U.S. in the Middle East will give them every reason to think that this ultimate conquest is possible. Also, abandonment of the region by the U.S. will force Israel to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes against Iran and possibly other nations in the region. It will be a struggle for survival and Israel is determined to survive.

  15. Middle East oil is only important on the global market. Currently, US imports come from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela, with Saudi Oil accounting for 7% of imports.

    We go to war to protect supplies for European consumers.

    BTW…Atta held a US commercial pilot certificate. He certainly could (and did) fly Cessnas.

  16. Tony, please put down your copy of ‘W’s Guide to Foreign Policy.’ Let’s dissect your rant against the good doctor:
    1. “If Ron Paul were President the Middle East would be in shambles and little oil would be reaching any country.” I’m curious what the basis of this is. You must be one of those people who believes that absent the US’s intervention, the world would collapse like a house of cards. While the Iran/Iraq War did increase prices, they were still only in the $60-$70 range (in 2006 $’s)–40% less than they are now.

    2. “Imagine oil wells aflame throughout the Middle East, unstable and collapsing governments and oil prices at $300 per barrel.” I don’t need to imagine oil pipelines aflame; we’ve seen that several times during the Iraq War. I also don’t need to imagine oil tripling in price. Bush’s War has already provided us front row seats for that spectacle, going from around $32/bbl to $115/bbl. You seem to be implying that by doing the EXACT OPPOSITE of this administration (Dr. Paul’s suggestion) that we would get the EXACT SAME results. Sorry, Spock, that seems pretty illogical.

    3. “Factor in also a pre-emptive nuclear strike by Israel against Iran.” Nuclear strike with what? Perhaps they will launch their centrifuges at Tel Aviv? They have no nuclear weapons to speak of. Iran’s rush to get nukes has been exacerbated by Bush’s sabre rattling. They’ve learned that if you have nukes (i.e. Pakistan, N. Korea) you don’t get attacked, but if you don’t have them (i.e. Iraq, Afghanistan) you do. Seems pretty rational to me. Oh, and Israel has between 200 to 300 nukes, plus our XX,000 backing them up. Iran would die a quick, painful firedeath if they started to lob a nuke in the general vicinity of Israel.

    4. “Ron Paul would be Osama’s biggest ally, followed by Obama and then Clinton.” Ron Paul would remove the three primary driving forces for Islamic terrorism against the United States: occupation of their lands, support for Arab dictators and unquestioned support for Israel. Without these talking points, OBL has very little to indict the US and his support for attacking us would dry up over time. RP would also focus our military efforts exclusively on OBL and not this scattershot nonsense approach we are currently applying to terroists.

    Peace be with you.

  17. Excellent article titled ‘The Myth of the Oil Weapon’ that I wish Mr. Scheuer (and anyone else who is interested) would read: http://www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_11_05/cover.html

    “…In 1776, Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner but from their regard for their own self-interest.” Similarly, it is not due to the benevolence of the world’s oil suppliers that we get our oil but from their regard for their own interests. Our oil supply is secure, not because our government threatens to use force against those who would make it insecure but because the world’s oil suppliers want to make money.”

    Peace be with you.

  18. There is a larger issue at hand that dwarfs all these other considerations but none dare speak its name – that is forstalling and reversing the slow-motion genecide of the White race. How can the survival of Western Civilization be ensured if the genetic continuity of the White race is not also ensured? The answer is of course former will not endure lacking the latter. It is utter insanity to think otherwise.

    Yet none dare say it.

  19. “the fact that there is no need whatsoever for the US to protect oil production”

    Is that really what the US is doing? Or is it protecting its own Petrodollar and its status as world reserve currency, and the de facto tribute payments this status allows it to levy from the rest of the world?

    Can the current status quo of extreme trade and federal deficits in Washington continue without this status?

  20. I’m no “expert,” but it seems to be that “al-Qaeda” is mostly a mask used by various parties to disguise their true identity. Maybe U.S. special forces want to prevent Sunni-Shia solidarity in an area of Iraq, so they set off a bomb in a Shia neighborhood and have “al-Qaeda” take responsibility. Maybe some Mahdi army want to defy the ceasefire, but not have Moqtada take the blame. So they attack some U.S. forces and claim to be “al-Qaeda in Iraq.”

    In apartheid South Africa, the white government would keep control when the natives were getting restive by having their special forces paint their faces black, put on natty wigs, raid a village in the middle of the night and commit atrocities. The villagers would blame the neighboring tribes, and unity against the white government would be prevented. PLEASE do not be so naive as to think the U.S. does not use similar tactics in Iraq.

    “Al-qaeda” is a mask and a neat trick to tie whatever war the U.S. is involved in to the 9-11 attacks. It’s too cute a trick, and besides, “al-Qaeda” just smells to phony. Have you EVER seen any “al-Qaeda” propaganda that would make anyone want to lift a finger, let alone suicide bomb themselves? It’s not like “al-Qaeda” is an actual humanitarian service providing militant street movement like Hezbollah or the Mahdi Army. If you really hve your head in Middle East politics, “al-Qaeda” makes no sense, they have no base, no convincing ideology, no funding sources, no popularity. Just fake or dubbed videos of Osama that date from before 2002.

  21. Scott, PLEASE, I’m begging you, look at the video of Osama, the one that “proved he did 9-11,” and tell me if it looks real to you. You can find it by googling “Fatty bin Laden.”

  22. islam will enter every baked and unbaked house no matter what anyone does. MUSLIMS enjoin right and forbid wrong .The rest Allah will do. HE is the best of planners.

  23. Global dominance? Come on Tony, get a freakin’ grip…Texas has a higher GDP than any country in the ME…Listening to you one wouldn’t know all the govts we’ve toppled, the ones we’ve propped up, the brutal sanctions, the assinine meddling for greed and Israel, all the depleted uranium we’ve spread…Oh no, we’re so wonderful…
    “Do you have any idea how many people would have to be in on it?”
    Go to 911truth.org…..blacklistednews.com…Learn SOMETHING about what you’re talking about…Who would you be able to tell if you were “in on it” and had a conscience??? Tucker Carlson? Sean Hannity? ABC News? Give me a break..There were too many coincidences and strange happenings surrounding that event to believe the “official, approved conspiracy theory.”

  24. After our Ambassador April Glasbie famously gave our ally Saddam the green light to take back Iraq’s lost province of Kuwait ( broken off by the British 80 yrs earlier ) we shouldn’t have gotten involved..As a secular pan-arab Saddam would never have invaded Saudi..there are many cultural, political and religious reasons why he wouldn’t have..Asa secular arab ( there were Shia and Christians in the Ba’ath party ) he wouldn’t have wanted to be “the protector of the two Holy cities”..the whole sunni world would have turned against him..
    Saddam was definitely more good than bad..He protected the Christians in Iraq..the one time a church was desecrated he found out who was responsible and had them executed..His enemies were Shia extremists, treasonous separatist Kurds ( who would take help fm Israel and Iran and were to some extent Communist ) and Wahabi Sunni al-Quaeda types..As much as you Fox “News” deadheads don’t want to hear the above it’s still true..

  25. I know what you’re thinking but YOU ACQUIRE MORE OIL TO SELL NOT TO HOARD…GO THAT? Especially when you’re in debt..The whole “oil as a weapon” argument is weak..Take your oil off the world market ( which none of these countries can afford to do for long ) and you just hurt yourself…Yup, more and more it seems this is mostly about the Israeli tail wagging the American dog…and no they are NOT an ally..They are just a burden; morally, financially and even strategically…
    Allies? From the Lavon Affair ( summer ’54 Mossad blew up US and UK facilities in Egypt, tried to blame the Egyptians..) to their deliberate attack on the USS Liberty to Jonathan Pollard and others…If that’s an ally well then……….

  26. By the way, they tried to blame their deliberate attack on the USS Liberty on the Egyptians also..Thank God our embassy in Athens picked-up the communications btwn their commanders and pilots and thanks be to Jesus that the Pharasaical Zionists were not able to cleanly sink our ship, blame it on the poor Egyptians and bring us into the ’67 war on their side…It would have been 1990 ( or 2003 ) thirty yrs earlier….
    Perhaps 9-11 was just a more sophisticated version of the Lavon/Liberty episodes in some ways..Almost everything we’ve heard so far about 9-11 is a lie.

  27. Wake up!


    “Evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.”

    US official quoted in Carl Cameron’s Fox News report on the Israeli spy ring.

    “Investigators within the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying … is considered career suicide.”

    Carl Cameron, as quoted in The Spies Who Came In From The Art Sale

    “While I agree with you, if I say anything about US geopolitical interests with Israel, I might as well clean off my desk.”

    Unnamed reporter as quoted in American Media Censorship and Israel

  28. The Cynical Foreigner and Captain Chaos are closer to the truth.

    Scared, old, White men along with their Jewish counterparts, trying to maintain their death grip on power while it slips, inexorably, from their grasp…

  29. Mr. Scheuer happens to be someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time living within the belly of the beast, like most parasites, and yet he can’t bring himself to admit that his agency, and his own handiwork, is part and parcel responsible for the hell that has been created. Now talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

  30. Agree w/ Cynical…this may just be lmore about protecting Petrodollars rather than oil. The dollar is not on the gold standard b/c it’s on the oil standard. Most countries buy oil in dollars…many return those dollars to the US buy buyng US gov bonds. The “fear” is that other countries will begin doing oil transactions in Euros or some currency other than dollars (a la Iraq, and more recently Iran…hmmm) which would effectively cut off our gov’s spending spree. As for me I’m rooting for the Mayan calendar 🙂

  31. Am I the only person that believes Lindsey Williams might be right about the oil reserves on Gull Island just off the northern slope(google it)? And, if he is right, this is all about petro dollars not the oil.

  32. There is a possibility that we’re not exploring, and that’s that America is a largely benevolent empire, whereas other major powers may not be. Yes oil still sold to every one in the world at the same market prices, despite the US militarily controlling the region, but would this be the case if it was Russian, or Chinese troops stationed in the middle east, rather than American troops?

  33. Note my origin is middle eastern and I have every interest in America disengaging from the middle east militarily, but I had to make this argument as devil’s advocate.

  34. Oil the problem???? Is it really?? I dont think so.. in that case United States would NOT be so heavily engaged military in the M.E… Why because military disruption is the reason why oil prices have drastically and sharply increased since the war in Iraq and the same reason why we put back Hugo Chavez in power from the attempted military coup because the next day it appeared obvious that there was going to be drastic civil disturbance that would disrupt where America gets 1/5 of its oil….. (Which could dramatically hurt America’s economy) Also following that line of thought.. Venezuela would be the perfect place to undergo a military invasion if all of this was due to energy because not only does venezuela have a lot of oil but it would also be in the GEOPOLITICAL INTEREST of America… energy ASIDE.. while invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan have absolutely no geopolitical interest WHATSOEVER… if you want the answer… ISRAEL IS THE REASON…. ALMOST PURELY 100%… the invasion of Iraq was an israeli blueprint idea due to THEIR geopolitical interests…. they wanted to split in Iraq into three parts… creating a kurdistan that would disrupt and debilitate all of their competing nation states in the region Iraq (would be 3 separate weak parts), Turkey (would go through hell with internal strife to put down the kurdish separatist movement), and Iran and Syria would also have to go through bloody and economic bleeding counter-insurgent activity against the kurds….

    They were planning that and then to attack Iran afterwards… of course everything has been going really bad… in Iraq, Agfghanistan, Pakistan, and in the 2006 war with hizbollah…. so only future will tell if the Israelis will get what they wanted in the beginning… Iraq into threee parts, Kurdistan area invoking kurdish insurgencies in Turkey Syria and Iran, and then an attack against Iran. (all of which would push oil prices to INCREDIBLY UNSEEN LEVELS)

    Read John Mearsheimer as well as Osama bin ladin who actually said IN 1999!!! that there was a zionist plot dedicated to dividing Iraq into three parts

  35. Спасибо за ответы на все вопросы 🙂 На самом деле узнал много нового. Вот только до конца так и не разобрался что и откуда.

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