(UPDATED) More on the NIE Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Spook 86 at In From the Cold is an old intel guy who maintains some contacts in the intel field. Given the bruhaha surrounding the latest NIE and what it says, Spook apparently contacted some of his old playmates and turns out a very different picture than that being disseminated in the MSM:
Yesterday, we noted that the MSM (along with their fellow travelers in the intel community), had apparently "cherry-picked" information from a recent National Intelligence Estimate, making their case that the Bush Administration's War on Terror had actually made the problem worse. In closing, we observed that if the NIE was that biased, it represented a grave disservice to both the community and the nation.
Thankfully, the actual NIE is not the harbinger of disaster that the Times and WaPo would have us believe. According to members of the intel community who have seen the document, the NIE is actually fair and balanced (to coin a phrase), noting both successes and failures in the War on Terror—and identifying potential points of failure for the jihadists.
He then prints quotes he claims are taken directly from the NIE.
Concerning al Qaeda, Spook says the NIE claims that operations have:
"seriously damaged Al Qaida leadership and disrupted its operations."
As to the supposed increased threat the terrorist pose today:
"A large body of reporting indicates that people identifying themselves as jihadists is increasing...however, they are largely decentralized, lack a coherent strategy and are becoming more diffuse."
So how has that "increased the global threat" as characterized by Democrats? Sounds to me that while there may be more running around, they're less likely to be as effective or able to carry out operations before being discovered.
The NIE analysis of the effect and importance of the war in Iraq:
"Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves to have failed, we judge that fewer will carry on the fight."
Nothing of critical importance there, huh? [/sarcasm]
So how important is Iraq?
"Threats to the U.S. are intrinsically linked to U.S. success or failure in Iraq."
But hey, let's leave before the job is finished, ok?
As to the effectiveness of the jihadists:
"There is evidence that violent tactics are backfiring...their greatest vulnerability is that their ultimate political solution (shar'a law) is unpopular with the vast majority of Muslims."
That's an important point. The more other Muslims are exposed to the jihadists tactics and hear about their political solution, the less popular they become among the very group they depend upon for support. Let me say that again - that's an important point.
"Progress toward pluralism and more responsive political systems in the Muslim world will eliminate many of the grievances jihadists exploit."
Sounds like a validation of the ongoing strategy to me.
Now contrast those quotes with thisNYT story which begins, '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," and see how well they match up.
Mr. Mazzetti [NYT article cited above] indicated he hasn't seen the NIE himself, but is reporting on what his sources have told him is in it. But people who leak classified information have agendas, and that agenda rarely is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Alas, that rarely is the agenda of New York Times reporters either, when they have a story they think will embarrass the Bush administration.
"The New York Times characterization of the NIE is not representative of the complete document," said Peter Watkins, a White House spokesman.
"Several officials I've spoken with who worked on...the final assessment actually reached a different conclusion than what is being reported," said "Mac Ranger," a former Army intelligence officer.
Mr. Mazzetti said he got his lead from the opening section of the report, which "cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology."
And Anonymous Liberal, if you're reading this:
While no reasonable person can deny that the Iraq war is "a reason" for the diffusion of Islamist ideology, there is nothing in the language of the report itself that Mr. Mazzetti quotes that indicates the intelligence chiefs consider the war in Iraq to be the primary reason for the spread of Islamist ideology, as the headline implies.
That was my point exactly when questioning that claim yesterday.
Michael's point is very direct and very well taken. Citing this portion of the NIE ...
“Threats to the U.S. are intrinsically linked to U.S. success or failure in Iraq.”
... Michael simplifies it for those who still don't get it:
A decision was made three years ago to inavde Iraq, and all the whining and crying in the world (which amounts to little more than goal-post moving and baltant falsehoods) will not turn back the clock. There was a debate in this country about what to do and the anti-war side lost. Get over it and, to borrow a phrase, move on. We are now staged in the Middle East, for better or worse, and the only clear way to extricate oursleves without further damage is to WIN THE G**D**N WAR.
That's it. That's the bottom line. And the NIE statement now gives a context to the importance of doing so, doesn't it? UPDATE III: A picture is always worth a 1000 words:
The same critics who say terrorism is increasing due to U.S. policy in Iraq, mock the potential threat of the terrorists actually stopped (Canada beheaders, London airline bombers), question the timing of the uncovered plots, smear those who are concerned about terror hitting home (literally) as cowards motivated by fear.
They also pass no opportunity to diminish and tarnish the efforts of the U.S. military in the field.
Rumsfeld needs to de-classify those bits of the report immediately.
In general, the Reps and all reason oriented folk need to be talking about how every policy has good parts and bad parts. Talking only about the bad parts of one policy, and especially comparing that (bad parts only) policy with a (good parts only) alternative policy, is intellectually dishonest.
[This was, and is, also the Marxist trick in their critique of capitalism, a big rich-poor difference, without noting the inevitable equalizing result, destruction of wealth including wealth for the poor.]
Most of the Left remain such intellectual cowards. They should be called on it. Peace in Vietnam by US withdrawal a) meant an end to US lives lost (good) AND b) the murder of 600 000 S. Vietnamese, many of whom were US allies and pro-democracy (terrible), and c) the Killing Fields in Cambodia (worst genocide in my life).
Anti-war in Rwanda meant a) no Americans killed AND b) 600 000 Tutsis murdered.
Anti-war in Darfur means a) no Americans killed AND b) 200 000 + black Muslims killed directly or indirectly.
(The Pope should also be asking all the Muslims who protest his words, why they do NOT protest the murder of Muslims in Darfur.)
The key issue — all policies have a mix of outcomes. The anti-war folk, like Murtha, refuse to discuss the bloodshed likely if the US leaves Iraq.
Has anybody wondered whether the 9/11 attacks may also have helped terrorist recruitment? Nothing like a big success to increase morale and get attention. Those nice videos of the collapsing towers are probably inspirational to terrorist types.(I guess now some will want to ban showing them as giving aid and comfort to the enemy).
This is not an either/or issue. It is absolutely not true that dealing with diffuse jihadist groups makes for a safer US than dealing with one, well organized group like Al Queda. With Al Queda, at least one knows who the enemy is. With a diffuse network of enemies, the fight against them becomes much more complex and problematic.
We all agree that were Iraq to become a democratic, peaceful nation, the world would be a safer place. The argument is, rather, about how to get from here to there. The constant regime change maneuvers of the US, particularly when accomplished by the violence of an invasion, create a problem in themselves.
Look at Afghanistan, a ’nation’ that never managed to become a cohesive whole. Its internal conflicts can only be bandaged over by outside military forces; they cannot be fixed. While defeating the Taliban is vitally important, this will not fix the problem of having a central government which can only control very limited areas of the country. At the same time, civic measures are hampered in an area where corruption is a way of life. The commitment to Afghanistan will need to be as long as the eye can see. And it will need to be a complex strategy, not just one of military force. Not being able to achieve a strategy with a little finesse becomes a security issue.
As our resources become more and more stretched, Iraq is weakening our ability to deal with this and other, and often more important, issues and threats. That in itself becomes a security issue.
US economic competiveness has sunk from first to 6th (or 5th?) place. That is a security issue, because this war is contributing heavily to draining our economy.
What is Bin Laden (the Cia trained one) and all those he has inspired saying? They are demending that foreign powers stop treating their lands as a playing field for their own interests. In the aftermath of colonization and all the other interventions, they feel humiliated. And it makes them mad. This becomes a security issue when their anger translates into terrorism. All those overblown reactions to ’insults to Islam’ stem from past humiliations.
Iraq was a ghastly mistake, but now we’re stuck with it. We’re damned if we stay, and we’re damned if we leave.
Our country is in trouble, for heaven’s sakes, and we cannot save ourselves by party politis or campaign season spin. I wish all you pundits and gung-ho military strategists would look up, take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture.
It is absolutely not true that dealing with diffuse jihadist groups makes for a safer US than dealing with one, well organized group like Al Queda. With Al Queda, at least one knows who the enemy is. With a diffuse network of enemies, the fight against them becomes much more complex and problematic.
We were last attacked when?
What is Bin Laden (the Cia trained one) and all those he has inspired saying?
You know, I hate to break it to you but bin Laden wasn’t CIA anything. He was a recruiter/finacier for the jihadist cause and he didn’t fight anywhere despite the poses with an AK 47 and the myths surrounding him.
That is a security issue, because this war is contributing heavily to draining our economy.
Oh, brother, what ignorance. The US has had, like what now, 15+ months of 3% growth. That’s phenomenal. No, Lame-ass, what is draining our economy is overtaxation for all sorts of govt.-run schemes, the very same schemes that you lefties can never get enough of...unless of course a Rep is president and then said schemes are always underfunded (whatever that means). Leave it to the left to be upset that they’re not stealing enough of OPM!
Of course the NIE strained to find every positive they could find and stuff it into the report. These people, as I said before, work for Bush. In the last post, the crowd was collectively ready to dismiss it as the unhinged work of dedicated anti-bush saboteurs if it made unqualified statements like "Iraq has made the war on terror worse."
Now that the crowd can emphasize contrasting statements instead, the NIE is taken at face value again. Wonderful. No self-serving manipulation here.
Frankly, it’s common sense that an open-inded counterinsurgency in Iraq destabilizes the region, radicalizes Muslims worldwide and invites the outbreak of further conflict. Anyone who’s ever impartially studied violent conflict has watched said conflicts spread like viruses over time. Any given radical ideology practically depends on violent conflict to spread.
Our combined intel agencies would have to be blind and deaf not to notice this.
Whether or not we’ve been attacked again is a red herring. We can be safer than we were on 9/11 thanks to the Afghanistan war, our domestic changes, and the ongoing worldwide intel/police effort, and yet less safe than we would have been without the Iraq war at all.
What I want to see is some sort of evidence that our efforts in the Iraq War specifically - not the GWOT - have in any way contributed to making America safer.
Here’s a new wrinkle that might force you to fallback on the "CIA’s a bunch of Bush-hating saboteurs" (quotes are hypothetical) meme again, McQ:
Okay, it sounds like that Iraq/Terrorism NIE isn’t the only one out there.
We’ve been making calls all morning. And it turns there’s another NIE the White House is apparently sitting on. This one’s entirely on the situation in Iraq. And the word we keep hearing to describe the findings are "bleak."
Hmmm. more here:
If there’s a GWOT NIE and an Iraq NIE... these quotes are quite likely from the GWOT NIE. Which shouldn’t be nearly as dark as the Iraq NIE. Which, apparently, GWB is not releasing. Apparently, his big press conference today is to release the GWOT NIE. A big, fat, bait and switch.
So, this would leave the NYT as, one assumes, reporting correctly on the broad thrust of the Iraq NIE, which is not the one being released and not the one you’re quoting from.
I await the retractions from the comment trolls above.
I am reading this, and I still don’t see your point. The published reports do not claim that the Iraq war is the "sole reason" (as you claimed yesterday) that the terrorism threat has gotten worse.
As the NYT passage you cite above clearly states: "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."
"Has helped spawn" does not equal "is the sole reason for". The claim—which frankly is so obvious that I find it hard to believe anyone would contest—is that the Iraq war has exacerbated the threat of terrorism. No one is claiming that the problem wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t invaded Iraq, just that it wouldn’t be as bad as it currently is.
Defenders of the war need to stop denying the obvious and start explaining why this uptick in terrorism is an acceptable trade off for what we are accomplishing in Iraq. As Glasnost put it: "What I want to see is some sort of evidence that our efforts in the Iraq War specifically - not the GWOT - have in any way contributed to making America safer."
I have a feeling this uptick in terrorism will continue up until right around Nov. 7ish. Then terrorism will cease to become a problem for the next 2 years and the "destroyed US economy" will plague mostly children and minorities right until Nov. 2008.
Assuming talkingpointsmemo.com is correct, the bait and switch is as follows:
There are two NIE’s from this year: the GWOT one and an Iraq one.
The NYT was reporting on leaks re the Iraq one.
The White House has followed by offering to release excepts of the GWOT one, taking advantage of the general lack of public knowledge that there are two separate NIE documents - and that, apparently, the Iraq/NYT NIE is not ’officially’ called an NIE.
I don’t know what that all means of if it’s true, but TalkingPointsMemo is quoting Jane Harman, ranking House Intel Committee democrat.
I did. That’s what allowed me to quote from it. Funny how that works.
The NYT was reporting on leaks re the Iraq one.
Nope. From the NYT (as I linked previously):
The estimate was completed in April, and is the first formal review of global terrorism by the United States since the Iraq war began.
Also, since Harmon is quoted in the NYT as stating she can’t comment on the report because it’s classified, NOT because she hasn’t seen it, why would you make the leap to think the wrong NIE is being declassified?
To sum up: 1) NYT claims the leaked NIE is from April 2) NYT claims the leaked NIE is about "global terrorism" 3) Harmon implies she HAS read the NIE 4) Harmon states she has NOT read the draft NIE on Iraq. 5) Bush is declassifying the same NIE that the NYT is talking about (the one from April about global terrorism that is not a draft version about Iraq unread by Harmon)
I fail to see how you’ve established that the NYTimes is not quoting the draft NIE from Iraq. The NYT reported April. Do we know that the Iraq draft wasn’t from April? And I don’t see how anything of what Harmon has said hints at what she has or hasn’t read, or how it would be germane.
#2 is the only persausive one, but on the other hand, NYT says they haven’t seen the document - they may not have even known which one was being described to them.
I guess I have to make the quote about tomato and tomato here. Personally I thought this was exciting as heck.
Especially this quote:
Concomitant vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement have emerged that, if fully exposed and exploited, could begin to slow the spread of the movement. They include *** dependence on the continuation of Muslim-related conflicts,***** (emphasis glasnost) the limited appeal of the jihadists radical ideology, the emergence of respected voices of moderation, and criticism of the violent tactics employed against mostly Muslim citizens.
D*mn, I’ve been doing everything short of scrolling banner text to make that point on here. Thank you, National Intelligence! wooooo!
We are now staged in the Middle East, for better or worse, and the only clear way to extricate oursleves without further damage is to WIN THE G**D**N WAR.
Other than vehemence, this doesn’t add much to the debate.
If the global jihadist growth is dependent upon muslim-related violent conflicts, then the indefinite continuation of the conflict is an engine for growth, pure and simple. Of course, sure, if we achieved total and definitive miltary victory tomorrow, that would also stall the engine. So would the second coming of Jesus Christ, but neither ending is en route.
"Progress toward pluralism and more responsive political systems in the Muslim world will eliminate many of the grievances jihadists exploit."
We already have a more pluralist system in Iraq. We could take this victory, call it theoretical, actual, or satirical - take whatever benefits we have managed to accrue, and begin to scale back the continuing reciprocal self-inflicted damage, by negotiating a truce-conditioned withdrawal.
Or we can continue to steadily pour fuel on the fire until the upside of the situation evaporates. If the violence continues to escalate as it has clearly escalated so far, it will. The pluaralism will be sucked dry. Partition is already more likely than not.
What we should be debating is where do we go from here. Winning the war in Iraq would be just dandy, but I don’t see any suggestions on how to do that little thing. Fighting on two fronts in extended wars is stretching the military dangerously thin. Since you don’t like taxes, how do you propose we finance all this proof of our military prowess, by piling on to the national debt, indefinitely? The illusion embraced on this site that all the world’s problems can be solved by military action is what worries me, as the Pentagon is sabre rattling at Iran. Remember, this, again, would be am unilateral action. As the political demise of Blair demonstrates, even England would not be with us.
World events demonstrate over and over again, that wars can not solve all problems. Just very recently, Israel, the greatest military power in the region, failed to defeat Hezbollah; in fact, Hezbollah was strengthened as a result. And don’t even bother bringing up WWII; those were different battles, entirely.
There are times when a fight can’t be avoided. Therefore it is prudent to not waste our resources on wars that can be avoided (Iraq) And if you’re going to fight, do some homework beforehand to intelligently assess what the results will be.
What to do? Immediate withdrawal would be catastrophic for the region and for us. Out-and-out military victory is not looming over the horizon. We have to start using our brains, not just guns. Senator Biden’s solution seems plausible. Breaking up Iraq into semi-austonomous regions might just work. It worked re the former Yugoslavia, although not perfectly. A perfect solution is just not going to happen, and it’s high time we started looking at second best or third best.
Any lucid suggestions?
Hint 1: stop with the ’we haven’t been attacked’ nonsense. That circumstance proves nothing and could be reversed at any time. One thing it shows is how much we have to invest in preventing attacks, but that’s all.
HInt 2: Stop using isolated economic data (like the growth rate) to back claims of our economic strength. Example: we could wipe out unemploymeent entirely by simply abolishing unemployment insurance, since the unemployment rate reflects only those getting payments.