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Obama's Bin Laden Focus

It seems a little risky to me, both substantively and politically. Here's how The Washington Post explains the new focus today:

While emphasizing the importance of continuing U.S. operations against Pakistan-based Taliban fighters who attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the incoming administration intends to remind Americans how the fight against Islamist extremists began -- on Sept. 11, 2001, before the Afghanistan and Iraq wars -- and to underscore that al-Qaeda remains the nation's highest priority. "This is our enemy," one adviser said of bin Laden, "and he should be our principal target."

I'm all for catching the guy, and for shaking up an effort that appears to have stalled out under Bush. On the other hand, as intelligence officials tell the Post, "the decentralized al-Qaeda network would remain a threat without him." On top of which, you have to figure the Bushies were dying to catch bin Laden--it would have been a symbolic victory they could use to divert attention from their many national-security failures. If they weren't able to do it with that motivation, you have to figure it's pretty damn hard.  

--Noam Scheiber