Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Even by his own definitions, George W. Bush enables terrorism.

So, the shiny new National Intelligence Estimate says Al-Qaida in Iraq is poised to attack us here, on U.S. soil. As Digby notes, in Salon, this is the latest Bush Administration hype to justify the continued occupation of Iraq. Of course, it also ignores the real problem, that al Qaida is growing stronger in western Pakistan, while the Taliban are stepping up attacks in Afghanistan, and are even threatening to ungulf nuclear-armed Pakistan. And, it also brings us back to square one: the Bush Administration's failure to capture Osama bin Laden, when they could have, at Tora Bora, in December 2001.

But let's forget all that. Let's take the new NIE at its word: let's pretend al-Qaeda in Iraq is actually now capable of attacking us on U.S. soil. Who's fault is that?

As terrorism expert Amy Zalman points out, Al Qaeda in Iraq was only founded in 2004. That would be after we invaded Iraq. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, that was the year Abu Musab al-Zarqawi pledged allegiance to bin Laden. And, of course, Bush hyped the killing of Zarqawi as a severe blow to al Qaida in Iraq, which his own NIE would now seem to suggest was just a tad overstated. Beyond that, though, as NBC reported in 2004, the Bush Administration missed several chances to kill Zarqawi, beginning in June 2002. Which would be before we invaded Iraq. Which would be before Zarqawi founded al-Qaeda in Iraq.

So, let's put this together. Let's take that brand spanking new NIE report at face value. Let's just assume that it's correct, and not hyped, and that Al Qaeda in Iraq is now capable of attacking us on U.S. soil. Whose fault would that be? George W. Bush. Fighting them there to enable them to come fight us here. On his own terms, by his own definitions, and according to his own propaganda, George W. Bush is undermining our national security.

UPDATE: The Washington Post adds its perspective on the NIE:
The White House faced fresh political peril yesterday in the form of a new intelligence assessment that raised sharp questions about the success of its counterterrorism strategy and judgment in making Iraq the focus of that effort.

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush has been able to deflect criticism of his counterterrorism policy by repeatedly noting the absence of any new domestic attacks and by citing the continuing threat that terrorists in Iraq pose to U.S. interests.

But this line of defense seemed to unravel a bit yesterday with the release of a new National Intelligence Estimate that concludes that al-Qaeda "has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability" by reestablishing a haven in Pakistan and reconstituting its top leadership. The report also notes that al-Qaeda has been able "to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks," by associating itself with an Iraqi subsidiary.
And the New York Times:
President Bush’s top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged Tuesday that the strategy for fighting Osama bin Laden’s leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan had failed, as the White House released a grim new intelligence assessment that has forced the administration to consider more aggressive measures inside Pakistan.

The intelligence report, the most formal assessment since the Sept. 11 attacks about the terrorist threat facing the United States, concludes that the United States is losing ground on a number of fronts in the fight against Al Qaeda, and describes the terrorist organization as having significantly strengthened over the past two years.

In identifying the main reasons for Al Qaeda’s resurgence, intelligence officials and White House aides pointed the finger squarely at a hands-off approach toward the tribal areas by Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who last year brokered a cease-fire with tribal leaders in an attempt to drain support for Islamic extremism in the region.

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