US intel chief: Economic crisis a greater threat than terrorism
Stephen C. Webster
Published: Friday February 13, 2009

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The Apostle Paul once opined, "the love of money is the root of all evil."

In 2004, at the very height of Bush versus Kerry, most Americans would have disagreed with the Biblical sentiment. An economy on war footing and credit available to almost anyone made such a notion antiquated, it seemed. So, when an alleged transcript of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden raving about his plans surfaced on Al Jazeera, only a key few took his message seriously.

"We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy," he allegedly said.

Though the current state of affairs is the sum of a vast many more contrivances than what bin Laden allegedly launched on Sept. 11, 2001, today the words attributed to him float like a prophecy. In a report to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dennis Blair, Obama's intelligence chief, said Thursday that the growing economic crisis has become the greatest threat to US security, outpacing even terrorism.

"And Id like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries ... Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period," said Blair. "And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community."

"Much of Latin America, former Soviet Union states, and sub-Saharan Africa lack sufficient cash reserves, access to international aid or credit, or other coping mechanism," he continued. "Statistical modeling shows that economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one-to-two-year period."

Blair also added that "there could be a backlash against U.S. efforts to promote free markets because the crisis was triggered by the United States," reported the Seattle Times. "We are generally held to be responsible for it," he said.

It was "easy for us to provoke and bait [the Bush] administration," bin Laden had allegedly bragged.

In the United States, 7.6 percent of workers are unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national economy lost 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, the worst contraction since 1982.

In France, more than a million workers took to the streets at the end of January to voice anger and fear of job losses during a one-day strike over President Nicolas Sarkozy's handling of the economic crisis. The French authorities are also currently struggling with a "revolt" over poverty on the Caribbean islands.

In Iceland, economic turmoil already swept a government from power as the population protested a lack of insulation from the global crisis. The new government, led by the first openly gay head of state, promised to begin trying to dig the country out.

Battles between Greek protesters and a government desperate to hold onto power shook and burned the nation's capital of Athens late last year after a police officer killed a young boy. Though street battles carried on for days, social unrest boils yet in the country, evident in a recent wave of firebomb attacks authorities blamed on anarchists.

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations," bin Laden reportedly said in the November 1, 2004 transcript.

"The longer it takes for the [economic] recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to U.S. strategic interests," Blair told the committee on Thursday.

"And it all shows that the real loser is you," bin Laden allegedly concluded. "It is the American people and their economy."