Her speech is worth reading, and absorbing, in its entirety.
A few highlights:
And I call it a crime, not an act of war. Terrorism is a
violent tool used for political reasons to bring pressure on
governments by creating fear in the populace. In the
same way, I have never thought it helpful to refer to a
"war" on terror, any more than to a war on drugs. For one
thing that legitimizes the terrorists as warriors; for another
thing terrorism is a technique, not a state. Moreover
terrorism will continue in some form whatever the
outcome, if there is one, of such a "war". For me what
happened was a crime and needs to be thought of as
such. What made it different from earlier attacks was its
scale and audacity, not its nature.
During the question and answer period, Manningham-Buller was asked if she ever told President Bush of her intense disapproval of the phrase "war on terror."
She only met Mr. Bush once she said, and that was at a formal banquet at Buckingham Palace, during his state visit in November 2003. "That wasn't the moment to tell him what I thought," Manningham-Buller replied, bringing laughter from the audience.
Manningham-Butler joined the secret intelligence agency in the 1970s, specialized in counter-terrorism -- most agents at the time worked in counter-espionage, focusing on the Soviet threat -- and rose through the ranks to become head of the agency in 2002; she retired in 2007.
America's reaction to the 9/11 attacks played into bin Laden's hands, Manningham-Buller said in her lecture, creating fear, a massive security industry, and personal inconvenience (think airport security).
"Bin Laden must have expected that these murderous
attacks would force a reaction that would make it easier
for him to persuade others of his argument that Islam was
under attack from the West. It suited his agenda for
Muslims to be viewed with suspicion. In addition to mass
casualties, Bin Laden sought an economic impact through
driving up security costs and disrupting normal life."
Manningham-Buller rejects the notion that al-Qaeda is motivated to attack the West because of our freedom and democracy.
But I still find it difficult to accept that the terror attacks
were on "freedom" or democracy as some have claimed.
The young men who committed the crime came from
countries without democratic rights and freedoms, with no
liberty to express their views in open debate, no easy way
of changing their rulers, no opportunity for choice and well
aware that the West often supported those autocratic
rulers. For them, as for many others, an external enemy
was, I believe, a unifying way of addressing some of their
Manningham-Buller supported the war against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. But she is unwavering in her thinking that the war in Iraq was wrong.
His human rights record was
atrocious, his prisons torture chambers. He was a ruthless
dictator and the world is better off without him. But neither
he nor his regime had anything to do with 9/11 and
despite an extensive search for links, none but the most
trivial and insignificant was found.
Manningham-Buller supported the war against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. But she is unwavering in her thinking that the war in Iraq was wrong, and has served as an effective recruiting cry for al Qaeda.