Moreover, just like the discussion of WMD in 2002 and 2003, the current discussion of al-Qaida’s capacities in Afghanistan is being carried out with cherry-picked intelligence. And just as Bush’s opponents suspected he cited WMD merely as an excuse for starting a war he already had made up his mind to start for different reasons, so it would appear that the assertion of al-Qaida’s weakness by the White House might be merely an excuse to justify the political decision that already has been made (by some) to get out of Afghanistan…

Not only are the quoted White House senior leakers misconstruing the reasons for the successes we have had but also the Post article cherry-picked even the analysis of its major on-the-record source, Richard Barrett, whom it quoted to the comforting effect that al-Qaida’s threat has “diminished.” But Barrett recently had told the U.K.’s Sunday Telegraph of al-Qaida’s new method of hiding bombs (in the anuses of the bombers). “While not wanting to be alarmist,” he had said, “I admit this is alarming. … Even though its capability is reduced, it is clear that al-Qaeda remains determined enough and inventive enough to cause another terrorist spectacular.” Barrett had said the organization’s “power to sow terror was far from eliminated.”