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John Kerry on Newly Declassified N.I.E. Findings on Iraq Policy and Terror

by Pamela Leavey

A couple of AP reporters, Katherine Shrader and Jennifer Loven, blasted Bush’s assertion that the “formerly classified” NIE classified assessment of global terrorism supported the Bush administration’s arguments that the “world is safer because of the war.” Their headline tonight, “Iraq is ’cause celebre’ for extremists,” caused at least a couple of right wingnut bloggers to accuse AP of “sad commentary” and a “hatchet job.” Oh my, the truth about Bush’s lies hurts… don’t it. AP reports:

In the bleak report, declassified and released Tuesday on Bush’s orders, the nation’s most veteran analysts conclude that despite serious damage to the leadership of al-Qaida, the threat from Islamic extremists has spread both in numbers and in geographic reach.

Bush and his top advisers have said the formerly classified assessment of global terrorism supported their arguments that the world is safer because of the war. But more than three pages of stark judgments warning about the spread of terrorism contrasted with the administration’s glass-half-full declarations.

It appears that “virtually all assessments of the current situation” in Iraq, “were bad news.” The few positive notes it contained “were couched in conditional terms, depending on successful completion of difficult tasks ahead for the U.S. and its allies.”

In one example, analysts concluded that more responsive political systems in Muslim nations could erode support for jihadist extremists.

John Kerry fired off a statement about the “newly declassified” section of the secret report that Bush ordered released today. Kerry said, “The National Intelligence Estimate provides jarring confirmation that the disastrous policy in Iraq is weakening our hand in the war on terror.”

“Terrorist organizations from Al Qaeda to Hezbollah are thrilled that we are bogged down in Iraq, even as the Administration misleads America with fear and sloganeering.

“No matter how much the administration pretended otherwise, as we were debating a Senate resolution to change course on Iraq, our intelligence agencies were telling this Administration that America is less safe and more endangered by terrorists because of the failed stay-the-course policies in Iraq.

“The truth is clear: Rather than being the central front in the war on terror President Bush claims, Iraq is a fuel depot for terror, fanning the flames of worldwide jihadism. Their arrogance, incompetence, and ideological blindness has left us with more terrorists in the world who want to kill Americans.

“Make no mistake, there is no way to regain lost ground in the war on terror without redeploying out of Iraq and making Iraqis stand up for Iraq. We must set a deadline to get out of Iraq and refocus on the real war on terror. Every day that this Administration refuses to face facts and change their failed approach in Iraq is another day they play into the hands of the terrorists.”

Key points in the newly unclassified document said:

The increased role of Iraqis in opposing al-Qaida in Iraq might lead the terror group’s veteran foreign fighters to refocus their efforts outside that country.

• While Iran and Syria are the most active state sponsors of terror, many other countries will be unable to prevent their resources from being exploited by terrorists.

• The underlying factors that are fueling the spread of the extremist Muslim movement outweigh its vulnerabilities. These factors are entrenched grievances and a slow pace of reform in home countries, rising anti-U.S. sentiment and the Iraq war.

• Groups “of all stripes” will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, train, recruit and obtain support.

Bush ally, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, “in Washington for a Thursday meeting with Bush, found himself drawn into the political dispute,” and he issued his own slap down of Bush in a “CNN interview about an assertion in his new book that he opposed the invasion of Iraq because he feared that it would only encourage extremists and leave the world less safe.”

“I stand by it, absolutely,” Musharraf said. “It has made the world a more dangerous place.”

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, TPMmuckracker reports that Rep. Harman has called for the release of a second secret Iraq report. That’s right — “There’s a second damning Iraq report floating around the intelligence community.” Taylor Marsh has more here.

3 Responses to “John Kerry on Newly Declassified N.I.E. Findings on Iraq Policy and Terror”

  1. Too funny.

    (I’m back)

    Of course, neither Kerry nor the AP report this major point in the NIE doc: If we do not win in Iraq it will be to our detriment.

    When you want to see the whole picture (in 3D) you need to actually read the document.

    See this interactive categorization of the NIE Doc:

    For example, below are all of the “forward looking” statements in the NIE doc. We can talk about blame for where we are until the cows come home. The reality is we need to make sure that we win in Iraq or the game is really over.

    “Perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.”

    “Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.”

    “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-Qa’ida, could erode support for the jihadists.”

    “Concomitant vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement have emerged that, if fully exposed and exploited, could begin to slow the spread of the movement.”

    “The jihadists’ greatest vulnerability is that their ultimate political solution an ultra-conservative interpretation of shari’a-based governance spanning the Muslim world is unpopular with the vast majority of Muslims. Exposing the religious and political straitjacket that is implied by the jihadists’ propaganda would help to divide them from the audiences they seek to persuade.”

    “Recent condemnations of violence and extremist religious interpretations by a few notable Muslim clerics signal a trend that could facilitate the growth of a constructive alternative to jihadist ideology: peaceful political activism. This also could lead to the consistent and dynamic participation of broader Muslim communities in rejecting violence, reducing the ability of radicals to capitalize on passive community support. In this way, the Muslim mainstream emerges as the most powerful weapon in the war on terror.”

    “Countering the spread of the jihadist movement will require coordinated multilateral efforts that go well beyond operations to capture or kill terrorist leaders.”

    “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.”

  2. RightSideRedux Says:
    September 27th, 2006 at 7:17 am

    Translation: damage control.

    That’s the short version. I have too much on the plate today to get to the specifics.

  3. Neither Senator Kerry nor any democrats in our democratic party have ever said that we do not want to win in Iraq or indeed the war in Afghanistan or the larger war on terror. What he has said is that we need to change course in the Iraq war. If we have done something stupid doesn’t mean we have to keep doing it indefinitely. He has said that so we can win in Iraq as we are not winning right now. Stay the course is not a winning strategy. He has advocated a gradual phased withdrawal of US troops in one year not an immediate one as many in the right wing media have suggested. Democrats care very deeply about success in Iraq and do not want the terrorists to win. We want to defeat the terrorists and we want to catch bin Laden and the president should have sent in reinforcements to Tora Bora as senator Kerry said repeatedly during the presidential campaign and since.