No doubt there will be naysayers who claim that Al Qaeda was a convenient fiction for the U.S. Government in the first place, but in any event it is certainly a change of tune to hear the U.S. Defense Secretary talk about victory over the bad guys. No doubt it means a change of strategy – but what? Mary Walsh reports for CBS News:
The United States is “within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda,” Leon Panetta declared, as he traveled to Afghanistan for his first visit there as Secretary of Defense.
Speaking to reporters aboard a government flight to Kabul, Panetta said intelligence gathered during the raid at Osama bin Laden’s compound has lead the United States to target 10-20 key al Qaeda leaders.
“If we can go after them, I think we really can strategically defeat al Qaeda,” Panetta said.
The success of the May raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where bin Laden was killed, along with “operations that we conducted at the CIA,” has undermined the terror organization’s ability to conduct 9/11-type attacks, he added.
“I think we have them on the run,” Panetta said. “I think now is the moment, following what happened with bin Laden, to put maximum pressure on them, because I do believe that if we continue this effort we really can cripple al Qaeda as a threat to this country.
“Is it going to take some more work? You bet it is. But I think it’s within reach,” Panetta said.
Panetta also said he believes Aymin al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s new commander, is living in the tribal areas of Pakistan, known as the FATA…
[continues at CBS News]