I can see why the President wanted the National Intelligence Estimate on Terrorism declassified: it gives a little context to the sensational conclusions that our anti-terror policy has created more terrorists and placed the United States in greater danger.
For instance; news reports never mentioned that the 16 agencies involved in compiling the NIE basically agree that democratization is the correct policy:
* Greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority nations would alleviate some of the grievances jihadists exploit. Over time, such progress, together with sustained, multifaceted programs targeting the vulnerabilities of the jihadist movement and continued pressure on al-Qaâ€™ida, could erode support for the jihadists.
And then there’s this:
* If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives. Nonetheless, attendant reforms and potentially destabilizing transitions will create new opportunities for jihadists to exploit.
Also, the report makes clear that part of the problem has been a result of some of our success; that the reason the jihadists have become so diffuse is because we’ve taken away their main sanctuaries – although we may want to revisit that question in a year or so and see how Pakistan and Afghanistan are turning out.
I also found this interesting:
Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement:
1. Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness;
2. Iraq Jihad
3. The slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and
4. A pervasive Anti-US sentiment among most Muslims all of which jihadists exploit.
In other words, Iraq is only part of the reason for the growth of jihad. A large part to be sure. And a place where our intelligence people believe the next generation of terrorists are getting training and experience right now. But it kind of knocks the chocks from underneath the position that pulling out of Iraq (or not going into Iraq in the first place) would have made much difference.
One question not addressed by this or any other analysis I’ve ever seen is this; how many terrorist recruits were there after 9/11? After Madrid? After London or Bali or Egypt or any other successful attack?
Does a terrorist success breed more jihadists?
As long as we’re using common sense here, my answer to that; there are a lot of people who want to play with the winning team.
An interesting analysis would be if you could find out the number of recruits who signed up following the spectacular success of 9/11 and compare it to when we bombed the snot out of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and kicked Osama and Omar out. Would there be a significant difference? Would more oppressed, anti-US jihadists sign up after a Muslim defeat? Or would more recruits flock to al-Qaeda’s banner after a surge in Muslim pride following a 9/11 type attack?
No answers, of course. I’m just throwing the questions out there for discussion.
BTW - I don’t think the declassification of this report is going to stop the Democrats or the press from drawing whatever conclusions they wish. The narrative is pretty well set now and it will be very difficult to counter with what the report actually said. As we know, the report categorically did not say that going into Iraq was a mistake – which is something I’ve seen on more than one lefty website in the last couple of days. In fact, reading the entire report, it doesn’t even hint that. If anything, it makes that case that invasion and democratization of Iraq is a wash.
But the troubling aspect of the report to me is the continuing diffusion of jihadists and their spread in numbers and locations around the world. This does not bode well for tracking and capturing the bad guys unless we really start to get stronger international cooperation from other intelligence and police services.
Much to ponder in the reports contents. I’ll be interested to hear what some of our more thoughtful commenters (Andy!) have to say.
UPDATE: WAS THE LEAK POLITICALLY MOTIVATED?
You’re kidding, right?
The NIE was circulated last April. It takes a while to make it through the bureaucracy what with all the people that shouldn’t be seeing it getting a good look at it. Information is power in Washington and people who are continually judging their status in the bureaucratic hierarchy by who is in the know on some things and who isn’t make sure they see the conclusions of the NIE at the very least.
That said, I think it very likely that the partisans who first leaked the existence of the NIE were hoping to hold off until the middle of October before dumping it on the public. As it is, someone may have wanted to blunt any possible momentum the Republicans may have been generating since early this month and thought that now was as good a time as any.
President Bush is convinced:
Bush charged at the news conference that political opponents leaked select parts of the National Intelligence Estimate to media organizations last weekend “to create confusion in the minds of the American people” in the weeks before the Nov. 7 mid-term elections.
“Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes,” Bush said. “I think it’s a bad habit for our government to declassify every time there is a leak.”
Timing is everything in politics. We’ll see how the timing of the leak in this case plays itself out.
Michelle Malkin wonders will our intel agencies ever get it when it comes to the historical hatred of the west by radical Muslims:
Putting aside how the outdated portions still refers to Zarqawi in the present tense, the big thing that strikes me about the key judgements is that they reflect a dhimmi, historically ignorant view of jihad more suited for the moonbat Left than our premier intelligence agencies.
Not a word about the 1,400-year-plus history of Islamic hostility to the West or Islamic imperialism from time immemorial or the Koran-inspired war on infidels—long, long before there was a United States and “pervasive anti-US sentiment.”
Remember what I said yesterday?
If our intelligence agencies are laboring under the moonbat illusion that Muslim hatred of the infidel West didn’t really start bubbling until the year 2003, we are really in deep, deep doo-doo.
Now I know we have some very smart and learned people working in our intelligence agencies. And I suspect that somewhere in that NIE - still classified for some reason – would be an analysis of historical/political roots of conflict between the Muslim world and the west. But Malkin has a point. Dumping this thing piecemeal on the public as first the leak from last weekend did and now the Administration scrambling to give a little more context doesn’t enlighten anyone. How do our agencies “count” jihadists in order to come up with the idea that their numbers are increasing as a result of the Iraq War? Why not Afghanistan as I asked above? Or because of their successes in the last few years?
Lots of questions and no good answers…