Monday, September 25, 2006

Calling all spinners -- explain how Bush has "made us safer."

There are times when being right makes you the happiest person in the world, and then there are the times it makes you crap your pants. Guess which one of those times this is. I want every angry, slogan-spouting flag-waiver who's ever written in ordering me to "leave the President alone, he's making us safer" to take a second, put down your copy of the National Review (the one with the Sean Hannity centerfold), and write to me again. Write to me and explain why our intelligence agencies now say the Iraq occupation has increased the threat of terror.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the document’s general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.

Officials with knowledge of the intelligence estimate said it avoided specific judgments about the likelihood that terrorists would once again strike on United States soil. The relationship between the Iraq war and terrorism, and the question of whether the United States is safer, have been subjects of persistent debate since the war began in 2003.

National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative documents that the intelligence community produces on a specific national security issue, and are approved by John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence. Their conclusions are based on analysis of raw intelligence collected by all of the spy agencies.


Paul said...

Maybe they don't know you're talking to them because they call themselves "Anonymous" and now they've forgotten who they are and what they said...

frightwinger said...

everybody knows that the CIA is run by America hating hippies, so there.

Zirconia Wolf said...


(crickets chirping)

I can't help but notice the utter lack of Bush-Lovers jumping to the defence of their perfect leader.

(crickets still chirping)


Darrin Bell said...

This post has been one of the most-visited posts ever in this short a time, yet there are almost no comments. Is ANYONE going to explain how our misadventure in Iraq has made us safer in light of this report? Come on, at least try.

elliott J. said...

I don't think there's any spinning this. Condi tried today, but even the parts Bush chose to release today are pretty damning toward the Iraq War.

tiffany said...

Obviously it hasn't made us safer. Bob Woodward's book seems like it's going to add to this, saying that it's not even making IRAQ safer.

I guess all those goons who would say "You think the world would be safer with Saddam in power in Iraq" now have their answer.

Paul said...

Okay, I'll take a stab at this (not the Iraq-US safer question, but the way in which this and the Clinton interview stories were initially reported and how they developed). Been thinking about it over the past couple of days.

Bit of irony here, don't you think? First the topic of Clinton Unloads of Faux News - asserting he's been misrepresented and giving several concrete examples illustrating why. But the main part of the post was how misleading clips (teasers) or headlines misrepresented what really happened on the interview.

Skip to the next post, "Calling All Spinners" regarding leaking of portions of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) followed by the request for past diehard administration supporters who've flamed Mr. Bell in the past to engage the topic.

Then a few days later, much if the NIE was declassified and released. We noticed that following the comments regarding the worsening of the terrorist situation because of the Iraq war was another comment stating that if the US prevails it will be disillusioning to the jihadists and will weaken their position. Oops.

Before your minds jump ahead with the "yes, but" rebuttals - there have been several thoughtful commentaries in the past few days - NPR's Dianne Rehm show among them - stating that both sides engaged in pick and choose to support their position, and the panelists did a pretty succinct job of describing how the NIE is built and how it should be interpreted.

Switch to Pres Clinton's specifics. A few days go by. 9-11 commission report's examined. Hmmm. Problems with a few of the charges. "Comprehensive Plan" to combat jihadists, or at the very least, bin Laden. "Firing" of Mr. Clarke. But in fairness, I can see how Pres Clinton may have viewed some documents as a "comp plan" or how Mr. Clarke was "fired/demoted." It's just his point of view. But there are some pretty compelling opposing interpretations.

So, back to the irony. Faux headlines regarding Pres Clinton's Fox interview. Teaser clips. Next, excerpts of the NIE, turns out they're also misleading (teaser clips) in the context in which they're initially used -to make a political point.

And so it continues.

Tiffany said...

"Then a few days later, much if the NIE was declassified and released. We noticed that following the comments regarding the worsening of the terrorist situation because of the Iraq war was another comment stating that if the US prevails it will be disillusioning to the jihadists and will weaken their position. Oops. "

Oops what? The "Iraq War has increased the threat of terrorism" part is a "this is what's happened" statement. The "IF we win in Iraq, they'll be demoralized" part is a "maybe, if, possibly" statement. If I were on a debat team, I know on which statement I'd be more comfortable hanging my hat.

And besides, as I mentioned in a previous comment, the Bob Woodward book looks like it's going to detail how we're NOT winning in Iraq. Sort of puts the "if, maybe, possibly" statement in a weaker light.

Tiffany said...

"Debate," not "debat." Just a typo, for all the nitpickers out there.

Paul said...

(Sigh) Agencies' analyses, especially when distillation across agency lines, are point-in-time descriptions and projections. Estimates are used as lessons learned, to reallocate resources (manpower, funds) to influence military and political strategies or to serve as a vehicle for further debate and analysis within the agencies.

Leaking portions, or entire documents, of classified material is a disturbing trend of recent years (enemies are well able to adapt if elements are threatening or expand if other elements are not adressed or are misadressed). It demonstrates the politization of elements of the federal bureaucracy or the lack of professional competence of agency leadership.