Sunday, September 24, 2006

What You Won't Read in The New York Times

According to my calendar, it's still September, but elements within the intelligence community have already launched their "October surprise," leaking elements of a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that concludes that the global terror threat has increased because of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. The preferred stenography services of intelligence leakers, The New York Times and the Washington Post, featured the assessment in front-page stories in today's editions, just in time for the Sunday chat shows.

After initially noting that it was not involved in the preparation of the NIE and its analysis, the White House began firing back, stating that accounts in the Times and Post are "not representative of the full document," according to spokesman Peter Watkins. We can only hope that the Bush Administration sees fit to release other portions of the report in the coming days, to provide a needed counter-balance to MSM accounts.

The Times (in particular) tries to depict the NIE as an assessment that represents the broad consensus of the sixteen agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community. In theory, that may be true, but as someone who's participated in the NIE process in the past, I can assure you that some agencies are more equal than others. For example, given the focus and scope of this report, it seems rather doubtful that the U.S. Coast Guard (now officially a member of the intel community) had much input into the NIE; ditto for the Office of Naval Intelligence, Department of the Treasury and other agencies that are--officially--full members of our intel apparatus.

In fact, the primary contributors to this NIE were likely the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), with assistance from experts at the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the senior advisory panel that is gradually assuming overall responsibility for the nation's overall analytic effort. According to the Times, the conclusion of this NIE seems to confirm predictions from a pre-war, 2003 NIC assessment which warned of a possible increase in terrorism following a conflict in Iraq. It's worth noting that the earlier NIC report was drafted under the old intelligence community structure, when the CIA dominated both the NIC and assessments of this type. In other words, it was quite likely that administration critics played a key role in drafting the original document, and the more recent NIE. Readers will also note that the NIE was published in April, but the leak was delayed until it could provide more political benefit.

As for its conclusions, it appears that the Times, the Post and their sources have been somewhat selective in extracting information from the intelligence estimate. The Times notes that "an opening section of the report cites the Iraq War as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology." Presumably, there are other reasons as well--which the paper promptly ignores. Media accounts also resort to another familiar ploy, largely ignoring the beginnings of the jihadits movement in the 1970s and 80s, and its steady growth in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton was supposedly doing "all he could" to battle global terrorism. Juding from the Times and WaPo, Islamic terrorism is a recent invention that began on George W. Bush's watch.

The report also concludes that the jihadist movement has expanded "from a core of Al Qaida operatives and affiliated groups to include a new class of self-generating cells," inspired by the group's leadership, but with no direct connection to Al Qaida. However, that's a very narrow view of cause and effect, since it credits the Iraq War for creating more terrorists, but fails to acknowledge that the conflict has forced terrorists into de-centralized operations. There is absolutely no indication that Osama bin Laden and his inner circle planned to surrender active leadership of their global terror network after 9-11, but the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan put them on the run, and our effort in Iraq forced them to shift their focus to that arena. It would be interesting to note if the NIE team considered how many new attacks might have been launched on the U.S. homeland without our incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq.

For the record, I haven't read the NIE, and it's difficult to draw accurate conclusions from cherry-picked media accounts. On the whole, our response to the events of 9-11 probably created more terrorists--just as our entry into WWII resulted in the expansion of German and Japanese Armies. But there is also evidence that the recruits entering the jihad today are not the same caliber of those who signed on several years ago. They are deadly on the streets of Baghdad (where the only requirements are blind obedience and a willingness to die for the cause), but less capable of mounting complex, large-scale attacks like those of five years ago.

If the NIE is as one-sided and as pessimistic as the Times indicates, then it does a grave disservice to both the intelligence community and the nation as a whole. It also suggests that our intelligence analytical process remains fatally flawed--an equally grave cause for concern.


Meme chose said...

It's a shame that when any government agency gets hopelessly captured by yet another entrenched clique of hard and fast Democrats, the most a Republican President can do is create a new one to do most of the work.

The old one, presumably due to Civil Service emplyment rules, can never be killed off and remains as yet another permanently subsidized cog in the Democratic PR machine, closely allied to the 90%+ Democratic press corps.

rocketsbrain said...

While on the subject of partisan hackjobs, see this independent rebuttal Scott Malensek has just finished on the Phase II Report from the Senat Intel Co.

I will be linking shortly:

Link to PDF

A Jacksonian said...

I am fully convinced the Washington Post no longer understands its 'local beat': reporting on the Federal Government.

The problem of understanding the internetworking of Transnational Terrorism is a difficult one, because they share links that are direct and indirect and spread capability across organizations. In point of fact terrorism is multi-causational, although the sharing of commonality of means and methods gets them a similarity of bloody gloss to their viewpoint. The faultlines of the Middle East had been held in stasis by the Cold War and that status quo needed to be changed and would be with or without the intervention of the US. Without direct US involvement in removing tyranny, the prospect of more terrorism and a spread of tyrannical regimes was something that could not be denied. None of the 'soft power' of the US was gaining traction in a time-frame that was meaningful to changing the outlook of the Middle East. Running away from that problem brought it to Our Shores.

There are long term consequences to defeat, and if we do *not* remember that and do *not* stand up with those we have helped from the grasp of tyranny, then we will get a heavy butcher's bill down the road closer and closer to home. Using the deaths of innocents to quaver in the face of tyrants and those wishing Empire is cowardice. Not realizing that when one stands up to tyrants and those seeking dominion over the world that they will fight *back* is sheer stupidity. The US has *always* been attacked by those wishing to deny freedom and liberty and they will use *any* excuse to do so. It is sad that the media cannot figure out how to put *that* into context, either.

augurwell said...

Dear 86,

Re: News Papers and the use of the word 'Jihad'. These enemies of freedom are not 'Jihadi' they are known as 'Hiraba' by Middle Easterners.

Choosing Words Carefully: Language to Help Fight Islamic Terrorism by Dr. Douglas E. Streusand and LTC(P) Harry D. Tunnell IV, USA.
We should stop calling Islamic extremists "jihadists." The term simply legitimizes their efforts in the Muslim world, because jihad "literally means striving and generally occurs as part of the expression 'jihad fi sabil illah,' striving in the path of God." So what word should we use? Streusand and Tunnell suggest "hirabah," which specifically refers to those engaged in warfare contrary to Islamic law and portrays them in an evil light.

Contact for further information or to contact the authors.

"The hostile use of global television to shape another society's will by changing its view of reality."
In this asymmetrical global war the battle space, domestic as well as foreign, requires that we say what we mean and mean what we say. A good set of dictionaries is a great help with Latin and foreign languages added in addition as well.

It is very important that we combat all facets of the totalists, those who would attempt to put us under their thumbs.

The partisan politics that is played out in the centres of government and in the press and at base in our homes and towns for governance must not divide us to the enemies advantage.I discovered the blog 'In From The Cold' very soon after you began it and I have added this site to my favourites, you have a good style and a balanced delivery of information that is helpful. I hope you continue and keep up the good work. I was pointed in your direction by Stephen Green from the Vodka Pundit. Again, you are on the mark and post much relevant information and insightful conclusions; Thanks.

I'm just back from an ordered two week period of R&R.

Take Care

Chesshire by Severn

Afterburner Thought: Sometimes I take it easy by playing backgammon, here is a site that is not too bad, they hope to advance international diplomacy by bringing people together for a good game. As I have spent just about every waking hour since that fateful September 11th five years ago employing my every faculty to the war I sometimes get fatigued and I found this to be a good way to relax a bit.

Backgammon was originated in Persia area I think and it is a game many Middle Eastern people play and good to break the ice with as we have many new emerging markets and folks that we can interact with from this region.

The study of Nabetaen is enlightening and will ground you with historical facts to help combat the fanatic by reinforcing the moderate, you may find this helpful in helping the East in joining the free human family. Some little known history of the middle east may be found here concerning early Arabians who did not hide the women away, had music, danced, did not have slavery and were not Jewish. I have found this site backs up the fact that Allah's religion has been hi-jacked and forensic science is used to verify the facts, very interesting.

I do not thump religious books and understand that the older more primitive
religions as recorded in some of these books are derived from world philosophy. I am not exactly sure where the magic wand idea has come from but rest assured I have been researching many years ...

The human spirit with nature, is plenty mysterious and wondrous. Natural selection weeds. Science is just magic by another name.

Compare - Winning & Won & Don't forget mopping up action.

*Global Emergency Service

bushisaNazi said...

"Science is just magic by another name."

so combustible engines are magic??
modern medicine is magic?
modern space travel is magic?
that blackberry in youre hand is magic?

truly illustrates how incredibly ignorant you can be and still figure out a computer.

Anonymous said...

I think you were mentioned today on Rush Limbaugh's show. :)