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Counting al Qaeda

Leon Panetta’s numbers aren’t to be trusted.

Jul 19, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 41 • By BILL ROGGIO and DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS
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Of course, unreliable estimates do not start and stop with Leon Panetta. Rahm Emanuel claimed in late June that about “a half of al Qaeda has been eliminated in this last 18 months.” Similarly, George W. Bush claimed in 2004 that three-quarters of al Qaeda had been killed or captured. Such declarations can only confuse the public debate—or produce confused policy that ultimately costs lives.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is the director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and coeditor of The Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater: Militant Islam, Security, and Stability (FDD Press, 2010). Bill Roggio is the editor of The Long War Journal and a senior fellow at FDD.

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