Former CIA agent says bin Laden motivation misunderstood

Former top CIA agent spoke at Lynn University

BOCA RATON, Fla. - As the American military continues into its tenth year hunting Osama bin Laden, an audience at Lynn University got a warning from a former top CIA agent who says American politicians and many people have it all wrong when it comes to our enemies.

In the late 90s, Michael Scheuer ran the CIA unit that was in charge of finding bin Laden.

He walked on stage in Boca Raton to say politicians are lying when they say: "They're waging a war against us because we have freedoms and democracy."

His new biography of the most wanted man in the world is drawn from Osama bin Laden's own statements. It refutes the notion, advanced by several presidents, that bin Laden and his followers attacked on 9/11 because they hate the American way of life.

"We are fighting this war because of what our government does in the Muslim world, that's not to say it's bad, it's simply to try to understand what the motivation of the enemy is," said Scheuer.

His book tour is nothing like his life in the mid-90s, when he was the head of the CIA unit dedicated to finding bin Laden.

There were 18-hour days and close calls.

In 1999, he says his unit knew where bin Laden was five nights in a row, but President Clinton didn't pull the trigger.

He says the willingness of of bin Laden and his followers to wait it out has been badly underestimated.

"Al-Qaeda has promised and kept to its word that each attack will be bigger than the one previously, and so we should expect an attack like 9/11 or worse," said Scheuer.

He doesn't say that to scare people.

Rather, he hopes it encourages Americans to better understand its enemy, so we don't damage ourselves.

He figures national identity cards and body scanners on subways aren't far off.

"If we get attacked during President Obama's administration, Mr. Obama will make Mr. Bush look like an ACLU lawyer. Not because he wants to, but because he doesn't have any other choice," said Scheuer.

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