It’s hard to think of a president and an administration more devoted to secrecy than President Bush and his team. Except, that is, when it suits Mr. Bush politically to give the public a glimpse of the secrets. And so, yesterday, he ordered the declassification of a fraction of a report by United States intelligence agencies on the global terrorist threat.
Mr. Bush said he wanted to release the document so voters would not be confused about terrorism or the war when they voted for Congressional candidates in November. But the three declassified pages from what is certainly a voluminous report told us what any American with a newspaper, television or Internet connection should already know. The invasion of Iraq was a cataclysmic disaster. The current situation will get worse if American forces leave. Unfortunately, neither the report nor the president provide even a glimmer of a suggestion about how to avoid that inevitable disaster.
Despite what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, have tried to make everyone believe, one of the key findings of the National Intelligence Estimate, which represents the consensus of the 16 intelligence agencies, was indeed that the war in Iraq has greatly increased the threat from terrorism by “shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.”
This is the Bush Administration, if the parts it actually allowed to be released -- no matter how its lobotomized apologists try to frame it -- are this bad, imagine what the other 26 or so pages are like. Hell, imagine how bad the "virtual" NIE about Iraq in particular is since they are trying to hold it until after the try to fool people beyond the first Tuesday in November.
A David Sanger states:
Three years ago, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote a memo to his colleagues in the Pentagon posing a critical question in the “long war’’ against terrorism: Is Washington’s strategy successfully killing or capturing terrorists faster than new enemies are being created?
Until Tuesday, the government had not publicly issued an authoritative answer. But the newly declassified National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism does exactly that, and it concludes that the administration has failed the Rumsfeld test...
...Portions of the report appear to bolster President Bush’s argument that the only way to defeat the terrorists is to keep unrelenting military pressure on them. But nowhere in the assessment is any evidence to support Mr. Bush’s confident-sounding assertion this month in Atlanta that “America is winning the war on terror.’’
While the spread of self-described jihadists is hard to measure, the report says, the terrorists “are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.”
It says that a continuation of that trend would lead “to increasing attacks worldwide’’ and that “the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities.’’...
...“I guess the overall conclusion that you get from it is that we don’t have enough bullets given all the enemies we are creating,’’ said Bruce Hoffman, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University.
...As a political matter, at least for the next few weeks, the intelligence findings will only fuel the argument over Iraq on both sides. Mr. Bush has grown increasingly insistent that nothing he has done in Iraq has worsened terrorism. America was not in Iraq during the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, he said, or during the bombings of the U.S.S. Cole or embassies in Africa, or on 9/11.
But that argument steps around the implicit question raised by the intelligence finding: whether postponing the confrontation with Saddam Hussein and focusing instead on securing Afghanistan, or dealing with issues like Iran’s nascent nuclear capability or the Middle East peace process, might have created a different playing field, one in which jihadists were deprived of daily images of carnage in Iraq to rally their sympathizers.
I wonder who could have possibly forseen such consequences?
To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day hero… assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerrilla war. It could only plunge that part of the world into even greater instability.
- George H.W. Bush, in A World Transformed, 1998.