What The NIE Does and Doesn't Tells Us.
A classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) prepared in April apparently argues that Iraq has made the US more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, putting it in alignment with most foreign policy conventional wisdom outside the nitrous-oxide filled rooms of the West Wing. In response, the White House yesterday released a carefully parsed edit (.pdf) of the document that--surprise!--hits on all the major Bush talking points. To wit:
- Terrorism is still a major danger, and forms a diffuse cloud of doom from which we should cower;
- Iraq may have made things temporarily worse, but the glorious flowering of democracy there would sap the evildoers' will;
- Iran is a grave and gathering threat.
As the Times' David Sanger points out, even this rosiest of parsing fails the Rummy Test, which asks " Is Washington’s strategy successfully killing or capturing terrorists faster than new enemies are being created?"
In the Post, Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus find other failures.
Instead, while it [the NIE] notes that counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged and disrupted al-Qaeda's leadership, it describes the spreading "global jihadist movement" as fueled largely by forces that al-Qaeda exploits but is not actively directing. They include Iraq, corrupt and unjust governments in Muslim-majority countries, and "pervasive anti-U.S. sentiment among most Muslims."In that Post piece, the writers spit back White House spin that the released documents represent almost all of the findings text of the document, but in an editorial, the Times disagrees, pretty much summing up what all good and true Americans should believe when they see this propaganda:
Yup, 'bout sums it up. Vote GOP in '06!
It’s obvious why Mr. Bush did not want this report out, and why it is taking so long for the intelligence agencies to complete another report, solely on Iraq, that was requested by Congress in late July. It’s not credible that more time is needed to do the job. In 2002, the intelligence agencies completed a report on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in less time. Mr. Bush also made selected passages of that report public to buttress his arguments for war with Iraq, most of which proved to be based on fairy tales.
Then, Mr. Bush wanted Americans to focus on how dangerous Saddam Hussein was, and not on the obvious consequences of starting a war in the Middle East. Now, he wants voters to focus on how dangerous the world is, and not on his utter lack of ideas for what to do about it.