White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan told reporters this morning that intelligence obtained during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound showed that the man who plotted 9/11 "was still focused on carrying out attacks against the United States. ... It also revealed to me that he was a little bit out of touch with just how debilitated his organization was."
"His lieutenants were trying to tell him, 'You know, yes we now what you want to do -- great aspirations --but our ability to do it has been degraded because we're losing people,'" Brennan said.
Since 9/11, Brennan said, al Qaeda has "taken it on the chin." Asked if the war in Iraq has made the United States safer, Brennan dodged the question. "I try not to look back, I look forward," he said. "We are where we are. We can’t, you know, remake history.”
Bin Laden, on the other hand, left no doubt when he was alive that he considered Iraq the central front in the war on terror. In 2004, bin Laden said:
I now address my speech to the whole of the Islamic nation: Listen and understand. The issue is big and the misfortune is momentous. The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The world's millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate.
The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries; the Islamic nation, on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. It is either victory and glory or misery and humiliation. The nation today has a very rare opportunity to come out of the subservience and enslavement to the West and to smash the chains with which the Crusaders have fettered it.
For on the importance of Iraq to the war on terror, see Thomas Joscelyn's 2007 WEEKLY STANDARD piece "Iraq Is the Central Front."