Michael Scheuer was the razor sharp, burly Buffalo native who the Central Intelligence Agency chose to run the bin Laden squad in 1995.According to a recently released book, “The Finish,” written by “Black Hawk Down” author Mark Bowden, Scheuer oversaw what he believed to be the first ever inter-CIA unit completely dedicated to locating a single individual. The unit, called “ALEC Station” after Scheuer’s son, employed 27 people, most of them women.
I’ve personally heard of the unit called, “Scheuer’s Harem,” and in Bowden’s book, some agents around Langley (home of the CIA) started calling it “The Manson Family,” because “Scheuer presided over so many female officers.”
Over the years the unit made several attempts to get the attention of the Clinton administration, one which seemed distracted by collateral damage. Eventually, as the book implies, they became put off by the eccentric nature of Scheuer’s character, his almost religious fervor for the capture (and eventually the kill) of OBL, and the gender composition of his unit.
“I think if you asked Scheuer, he would say (sexism) played a role,” said Bowden. Though Bowden maintained the administration’s main concern was stuff like “hitting a mosque with some shrapnel,” there were some indications that ALEC Station was hindered by irrational motivators.
Finally, when the team had suffered multiple strike denials after giving what they believed to be air tight intelligence, one of the women snapped.
From the book:
When Director George Tenet paid a visit to ALEC Station not long afterward, one of the women on Scheuer’s staff confronted him angrily: “You and the White House are going to get thousands of Americans killed!”
Tenet’s response reflected this subtle prejudice and rankled ALEC Station further.
“You will all think clearer in a couple of days.”
By this time ALEC Station was regarded as “cultish” and “obsessive.”
Later, when the CIA had finally had enough of Scheuer, they removed him from the station, telling him to tell his people he had “burned out,” and that they were going to give him a medal and monetary award.
According to Bowden, Scheuer said he told them to “Stick it in your a*s.”
That was in 1999. Two years later, Osama struck.
From the book:
“Obsessives” like Scheuer and his “cult” ALEC Station looked prophetic, not overly emotional.
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