Former Chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit Michael Scheuer said “that the government ‘doesn’t respect the threat’ because most officials still regard Al Qaeda as a terrorist organization that can be defeated by arresting or killing its operatives one at a time. He noted that President Bush and other officials had repeatedly said two-thirds of the leadership of Al Qaeda has been killed or captured, but he said the figure was misleading because it is referring to the leaders who were in place as of Sept. 11, 2001. Al Qaeda has replaced many of those dead or captured operatives and continues to thrive as a guiding force for Islamic extremists around the world. ‘I think Al Qaeda has suffered substantially since 9/11, and it may have slowed down its operations, but to take the two-thirds number as a yardstick is a fantasy,’ Mr. Scheuer said. ‘To say that they have only one-third of their leadership left is a misunderstanding. That is looking at it from a law enforcement perspective. They pay a lot of attention to leadership succession, and so one of the main tenets of Al Qaeda is to train people to succeed leaders who are captured or killed.’

 – James Risen, “Evolving Nature of Al Qaeda Is Misunderstood, Critic Says,” The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2004