Once again, Dan Froomkin nails it:
Like any terrorist organization, al-Qaeda wants attention. It wants to be perceived as powerful. And it particularly wants Americans to live in fear.
Could al-Qaeda possibly have found a better publicist than President Bush?
At a South Carolina Air Force base yesterday, Bush mentioned al-Qaeda and bin Laden 118 times in 29 minutes, arguing that the violence unleashed by the U.S. invasion in Iraq would somehow come to America's shores if U.S. troops were to withdraw.But the majority of that violence in Iraq is caused either by Iraqis murdering each other for religious reasons or by Iraqis trying to throw off the American occupation. The group that calls itself al-Qaeda in Iraq is only one of a multitude of factions creating chaos in that country, and the long-term goals of its Iraqi members are almost certainly not in line with those of al-Qaeda HQ (which is safely ensconced in Pakistan).
Furthermore, the administration's own intelligence community has concluded that the war in Iraq has helped rather than hurt al-Qaeda.