This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
It's interesting to see how cautious the Bush administration has been after the death Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. No "Mission Accomplished." No smiles or high-fives. When the president spoke from the Rose Garden, "subdued" doesn't even begin to describe his mood.
Islamist Web sites noted the passing of the "martyr Zarqawi" and hastily claimed that what and who will follow will be worse.
Zarqawi watchers have been wondering about al Qaeda in Mesopotamia for months. Earlier this year, there were indications from al-Zarqawi himself that he might be changing his role. Then, as suddenly as that was announced, he said "No, I'm really in charge."
The fact that someone inside the organization helped give him up lends credence to conspiracy theorists. Is there a power struggle? Was al-Zarqawi dispensable?
U.S. military sources in Iraq have told me his PR man may be the greatest threat. Like you, we're waiting to see what's next.
Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
By Harry Smith
Copyright 2006 CBS. All rights reserved.