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CIA insider slams Bush antiterror policies

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
September 11 attacks
Osama Bin Laden

(CNN) -- A book written by a top CIA counterterrorism official alleges that the Bush administration has bungled the war on terror, and because of poor decisions the United States faces a choice in Iraq and Afghanistan "between war and endless war."

Written by a high-level counterterrorism expert and published under the name "Anonymous," the book "Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror" is unique in that it was written by an official still working for the CIA.

And with the book slated to be released next week, the author has already appeared -- in shadow -- on a Sunday political talk show to defend his work.

On ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopolous," the author accused some senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community of "a great deal of moral or bureaucratic cowardice" in dealing with the war on terror.

Although he was relatively muted on the topic of George Tenet, the outgoing director of the CIA, the author was unsparing in his criticism of the Bush administration's decision to wait a month after the September 11, 2001, attacks before going to war in Afghanistan.

"We were facing a government, the Taliban, which was basically a rural insurgency trying to govern cities, and al Qaeda, which is a 20-year-old insurgency. If you were going to hit them, sir, you had to hit them on the 11th or the 12th or the 13th."

"By the time the 7th of October rolled along, most of those forces had been dispersed into the countryside, into Pakistan, into Iran, overseas to other countries. There was no 'there' left when we went there," he said.

In his book, the author labeled the invasion of Iraq a "Christmas gift" to Osama bin Laden and said the country has become a "Mujahadeen magnet" attracting Muslims from around the world to fight the occupying U.S. forces.

In an interview on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," Secretary of State Colin Powell refused to comment on the author, but said that while there is an insurgency in Iraq, "I think what we are also seeing is that the world is coming together" and developing an "understanding that we have to deal with these kinds of terrorist organizations and not just write it all off to Muslim extremism."

Also appearing on "This Week," national security advisor Condoleezza Rice refused to comment specifically on "Anonymous" because, "I don't know who Anonymous is."

However Rice offered a defense of Bush administration policies in the war on terror and in Iraq.

"What I can say is that a free Iraq, an Iraq in which these killers realize that we're moving toward a democratic future for Iraq which can be the linchpin for a different kind of Middle East, is going to frustrate, not improve, their plans."

The book charges that Saddam Hussein posed no immediate threat to the United States; that the war in Iraq undermined the overall war against terror and actually played into bin Laden's hands; and that the United States is losing that war on terror.

The author also predicts al Qaeda will again attack the continental United States and that it will be even more damaging than the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The author says the biggest mistake made after 9/11 was that top intelligence community leaders were not fired.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, agreed.

"As we try to prepare ourselves in this new era of terrorism, we have to just assume that we're going to have an attack," Nelson said. "And the only way that we prevent it is to have accurate and timely intelligence."

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