Bush Agonistes

Bat11ce5c_bush "On Tuesday evening the White House issued what it called a fact sheet lining up the intelligence estimate’s findings with President Bush’s own words in recent months, comparing, for example, the report’s account of the the spread of new terror cells independent of Al-Qaeda to Mr. Bush’s references to “homegrown terrorists’’ from Madrid to Britain.

But there is a difference in tone between Mr. Bush’s public statements and the classified assessment that is unmistakable.

The report says that over the next five years “the confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups.’’

It also suggests that while democratization and “exposing the religious and political straitjacket that is implied by the jihadists’ propaganda’’ might dim the appeal of the terrorist groups, those factors are now outweighed by the dangerous brew of fear of Western domination, the battle for Iraq’s future and the slow pace of real economic or political progress.

Yet the intelligence report bears none of Mr. Bush’s long-range optimism. Rather it dwells on Mr. Rumsfeld’s darker question, which he put cheekily as, “Is our current situation such that ‘the harder we work, the behinder we get?’ ”

Tuesday’s declassified report asked a more subtle version of that question. It notes that while democratization might “begin to slow the spread’’ of extremism, the “destabilizing transitions’’ caused by political change “will create new opportunities for jihadists to exploit.’’"  NY Times


I find this NIE to be an "average" piece of work, done by professionals and hopefully indicative of the kind of documents that the NIC will produce under DNI leadership (Negroponte).

Having gone this far, the government ought to release the rest of the document.  NIEs are not  written in such a way as to make "sources and methods" vulnerable to discernment by reading the text.

This is a potentially "deadly" document in the propaganda wars between the two parties.  It says that the war in Iraq, already known to all but the true believers to have been free of WMD not only is a recruiting tool for more and more jihadis, but the war also is not doing anything to contribute to the Bush Administration goal of revolutionary change in Middle Eastern minds.

People are asking if Bush read the NIE?  Of course he read it.  He just can’t figure out what to do about it.

Pat Lang



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12 Responses to Bush Agonistes

  1. I contend that the Iraqi conflict, as well as the prevailing Middle East tensions, will be lessened in equal proportion to the success we achieve in providing for a Palestinian state. Given that the NIE assessment posits that, “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”, then it would be reasonable to conclude that any progress with the Palestinian issue will greatly enhance the speculative potentiality of the NIE report. Absent the Palestinian effort, I’m of the opinion that the NIE timeframe is overly optimistic and dependent upon a relatively static progression without the prevalence of unforeseen events and escalations…which seems unlikely at best.
    Frankly, I doubt that the existing Republican approach or the alternative of withdrawal supported by a number Democrats will serve to alleviate the existing conditions and bring relative stability to the troubled region. Neither approach has the wherewithal to alter the prevailing sentiment. Conversely, a voluntary effort that would demonstrate our ability to discern the profound importance of a successful Palestinian state would, in my opinion, yield exponential goodwill. Given the current conditions, such an effort has little risk.
    Read more here:

  2. Michael says:

    I heard Bush didn’t read the NIE because he was waiting for the made-for-tv movie on ABC.

  3. Fred says:

    Pat, I agree the NIE should be made public. I would like to read it. Too few of our citizens make any effort to stay informed or make critical decisions based on a review of detailed facts.
    I would say the “religious and political straitjacket” also applies to American conservatism. It is deeply troubling to me that many now ask us to yield the rights the creator gave us to the politicians in Washington – all in exchange for a ‘promise’ of being kept safe. Wasn’t it a French philosopher who said the worst kind of defeat is a cultural defeat? That is what I believe is happening here in the US – we are defeating our own culture of freedom – all for the empty promises of Washington politicians and the power groups surrounding them.

  4. Matthew says:

    Do you think the “full-spectrum dominance” crowd can see the connection between their goals and reality? Maybe Rumsfeld should ask himself the question he posed: “Is our current situation such that ‘the harder we work, the behinder we get?’ ”

  5. arbogast says:

    It is good that you reference the New York Times. The Washington Post shills Bush. Compare:
    Times: “At one level it is unsurprising stuff,’’ said Paul Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia on the intelligence council until last year. “But there is definitely much there that you haven’t heard the president say,’’ he added, “including the role that Iraq has played’’ in inspiring disaffected Muslims to join an anti-American jihadist movement.
    Post: “”This is very much mainstream stuff,” said Paul R. Pillar, the CIA’s national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005. “There are no surprises.”

  6. The Heretik says:

    Monster Policy Update

    Paging Doctor Rumsfeld: Your test results are in. Tne latest NIE looks a little grim.
    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 t…

  7. donna says:

    Why do we need an NIE to tell us that our interfering in other people’s governments and invading their lands will piss them off so they resort to terrorist tactics? It’s kind of obvious, really.

  8. W. Patrick Lang says:

    There is a common misunderstanding of the function of intelligence analysis.
    Government intelligence analysis exists to verify and certify rumors spread by the media.
    It does NOT exist to spread unconfirmed rumor. This is the function of cable and other TV news. pl

  9. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Also, the press reports seem to confirm there is a second NIE on Iraq which is also being stonewalled.
    Frankly speaking, the Administration should go ahead and declassify both. Simply because it doesn’t REALLY hurt them politically.
    The american public overall seems too dense to understand, and the 1/3rd or so fox news diehards will never be convinced.
    Likewise, the Democratic party seems composed of spineless cowards, who are unable and unwilling to confront this President for fear of being portrayed as “Weak on the Terrorist Issue”
    Anyway, I think this discussion is almost academic, at least in the political sense. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts we will see a new Osama video in the next month if the bastard is still alive. Osama knows how much the Republicans have benefited him, and has campaigned for Bush once already.

  10. McGee says:

    “It does NOT exist to spread unconfirmed rumor. This is the function of cable and other TV news.” pl….and, mon Colonel, Tony Snow – our first-ever, Cable TV talking-head press secretary!

  11. ali says:

    I’d like to see the full document. I’m rather afraid it’s the usual sunny side up bollocks refried by a vacillating committee. Just what sort of craven haggling lead to this paragraph:
    “The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep
    resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for
    the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves,
    and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry
    on the fight.”
    Speaking the truth to power this is not.
    We have polling data, copious evidence of massively increased recruitment and a highly diverse movement that has metastasized since 9-11. I’d like to see any objective evidence to support the wishful thinking in the second speculative sentence.
    If Iraq turned into Denmark tomorrow I doubt it would make a whit of difference. The damage is done.
    Did the destruction of Ayman al-Zawahiri group in Egypt finish him? Having provided little more than logistical support during the Afghan Soviet war did the disastrous defeats of Bin Laden’s group in the Afghan civil war cause them to dwindle? Later having been thrashed out of Afghanistan by the US backed Northern Alliance did they wither away? Did the apparent crushing defeat inflicted on the powerful Algerian wing of the movement in the 90s really alter its momentum? Even the hammer blow the Syrians struck the movement is instructive: Hama is a rallying cry of the Jihad. From what I can see this Jihad thrives on and almost aspires too heroic failure.
    And the international Jihadi movement will fail again in Iraq. Their cause is politically hopeless and they are outnumbered ten to one by now much more able Iraqis not much impressed with the goal of establishing the Caliphate. Not because we’ll ever conclusively beat them, we aren’t even fighting them most of the time, but because they are just as alien in Iraq as our troops and Iraqi chauvinism will not suffer them long after our departure.

  12. zanzibar says:

    This Administration is all about spin all the time. It does not matter if Bush or Cheney read the NIE or not. They believe what they believe – facts be damned. They also have the propaganda machine of the corporate media working overtime.
    For 30% of the voting public whatever Bush spouts is gospel truth no matter the evidence. And then another great percentage of the voting public prefer malls and the big box retailers than finding out about the matters of state.
    This is the price we pay for electing a bunch of craven rapturists as our leaders. Despite the horrors of Iraq that we unleashed and the incitement of the jihadists that has created what concerns me most is what it has done to us and our constitutional system. The core of what is America as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are being shredded in front of our very eyes. Are we at the end of our 230 year expirement? Have we arrived at the beginning of an Orwellian tyranny? I’ve got the blues! The consideration of our Congress today and with the House already approving legislation that is directly contrary to American values and legalizing torture and indefinite detention with no habeas corpus as well as elimination of due process is such an outrage. How long before the Maher Arar’s become the John & Jane Doe’s?

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