How The NIE Undercuts Bush
Isn’t it amazing that the White House releases a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and Al Qaeda at the outset of two weeks of Democratic efforts to hold Iraq votes before the August recess, when in fact Bush had this assessment back in June?
Isn’t it amazing that the NIE claims that Al Qaeda in Iraq is a threat to the United States, parroting what the president has been saying, when in fact John McCain’s leading campaign advisor on Iraq Anthony Cordesman says Al Qaeda in Iraq is just a small part of the Sunni insurgency and the threats we face? Ninety-five percent of the membership of Al Qaeda in Iraq is Iraqi, not foreign fighters being brought in by Al Qaeda.
And as if on cue, the Pentagon announces a senior Al Qaeda in Iraq leader was captured, two weeks ago, who is telling the Pentagon that contrary to what the intelligence community is saying, Al Qaeda controls Al Qaeda in Iraq. I'm sure the intelligence community will want to check out this latest "Curveball."
Isn’t it amazing that the NIE says Al Qaeda has regrouped in a safe haven in the tribal areas of northern Pakistan, when it was Bush's own administration that encouraged Pervez Musharraf to back off of the Taliban and Al Qaeda with truces last September? Even though Bush encouraged the truces, that didn’t stop the New York Times today from saying that the Bush Administration “reluctantly endorsed” the failed truces, thereby adopting the White House spin once again.
As another NYT story correctly indicated today, the NIE actually makes the case that for all the billions we have spent in Bush’s wars since 9/11, we aren’t any safer. In his zeal to keep wavering GOP senators from peeling away before the summer recess during the debate on the defense budget, Bush issued a report edited to make his case about Al Qaeda in Iraq, and ended up undercutting all his claims of progress against Al Qaeda internationally. And as the Post notes, the NIE also undercuts Bush’s rationale to stay in Iraq.
Democrats need to take the NIE conclusions about the Al Qaeda resurgence in northern Pakistan, and hammer the White House in the media during the summer recess with the message that Bush encouraged the truces that led to Al Qaeda’s resurgence, and that his misjudgments about Iraq and in how best to fight Al Qaeda require an immediate change in course.