What the NIE really says about Iraq and the Jihadis
A newly declassified and controversial intelligence report says that the Iraq conflict has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic extremists, but if their efforts fail it could hinder recruiting of more would-be terrorists.No kidding. What is the distribution list of this document. It has to be pretty limited. It would be interesting to see who would refuse to take a polygraph. I would start with the Democrats on the list because they are the ones seeking to exploit the misleading leak. That pro bably means any CIA employees who saw it too. By leaking the report, the leaker has increased the distrust of the CIA as well as raising questions about the integrity of its employees.
The key findings of the National Intelligence Estimate state that the number of "jihadists" is growing in size and geographic dispersion, and if the trend continues it could lead to more terror attacks worldwide and more threats to U.S. interests at home and abroad.
Rather than point the finger solely at U.S. involvement in Iraq, the NIE instead concludes that counterterrorism efforts in general have caused a rise in global terror, and "greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority nations would alleviate some of the grievances jihadists exploit."
The report, completed last April and released Tuesday on orders from President Bush after portions were leaked to The New York Times and other newspapers, drew a strong response from the president.
"Some people have, you know, guessed what's in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree. I think it's naive," Bush said during a news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the East Room of the White House.
"I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe," Bush said.
The report states that the jihadists have several vulnerabilities that could be exploited, specifically, that not every Muslim wants to surrender to Sharia law. Other weaknesses include "dependence on the continuation of Muslim-related conflicts, 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."
The president said that the leaked report distressed him because, in part, it shows that someone in the government is trying to play politics, but more so, because it hurts the intelligence collection process.