Friday, December 8, 2006


Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite?

`For the past several months, Iíve been wrapping up lengthy interviews with Washington counterterrorism officials with a fundamental question: ďDo you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?Ē

A ďgotchaĒ question? Perhaps. But if knowing your enemy is the most basic rule of war, I donít think itís out of bounds. And as I quickly explain to my subjects, Iím not looking for theological explanations, just the basics: Whoís on what side today, and what does each want? [..]

But so far, most American officials Iíve interviewed donít have a clue. That includes not just intelligence and law enforcement officials, but also members of Congress who have important roles overseeing our spy agencies. How can they do their jobs without knowing the basics?’

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