How to LIE about the NIE

That most wonderful time of the year has arrived. Oh, the joy of election season!  Overpriced, overcooked fundraising dinners; tasteless posters and bumper stickers; sophomoric TV attacks, excruciating debates and, oh yeah — politically motivated leaks to the press.  This season's opening unlawful disclosure — cherry picked classified information from last April's National Intelligence Estimate.  And the bearer of these illicit tidings was, once again, that usual suspect and best friend to all causes liberal —— the New York Times.   

The Old Grey Lady takes a Leak and Runs with it!

Left leaning kooks nationwide were absolutely delighted when a September 23rd article broke the 'news' that:

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The piece went on to quote a rock—solid reliable unnamed source — 'one American intelligence official,' who confided to the NYT, under a cloak of anonymity:

The report 'says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse

Pay Dirt!  This underscored what the Democrats had been trying to tell us all along!  Of course, putting a name to that official might have given that statement a smidge more gravity, but, then again, has the Times ever printed anything worthy of doubt?

This perceived manna from above quickly became the leftie talking point de jour.  Of course, it's doubtful anyone at the Times had actually read the then fully classified report, but in a weekend which entertained us with the televised nervous breakdown of a Democratic icon, who cared?  After all, what's an ex President's near—battery of Fox News's Chris Wallace, when George Bush and the Republicans had all but assured our doom with their ill—fated war that they lied to get us into in the first place?

It's the Times of the Season

Caught up in the excitement of the apparent 'Gotcha,' watering mouths and fluttering fingers quickly set out to spread the seasonal cheer.  For instance, Monday's Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC opened with the host spouting these words:

A new government intelligence report says the war in Iraq has encouraged terrorist recruitment. Finally we have the metric Secretary Rumsfeld has been seeking. Are we creating more terrorists than we`re killing? The report says yes.

The next day, Rod Elving at NPR drew this conclusion from the conveniently timed article:

The NIE leads us to believe that a policy devoted to "staying the course" in Iraq at all costs for "as long as it takes" will not break the back of global terrorism but strengthen the movement.

And the woman who would be Speaker of the House, who had unsuccessfully called for a secret session to review the NIE document, concluded,

"We did not invade Iraq to fight terrorism, as the President would now have us believe. Instead, we are less safe today because the war in Iraq has hindered our ability to make progress in combating terrorism. The reported NIE makes that case clearly.'

It was the best of the Times — It was the worst of the Times!

Needless to say, these were all amazingly unsubstantiated determinations to draw from an article gratuitously long on opinions and pitifully short on factual analysis.  Of course, no one questioned the authenticity of the article — it was, after all, the Times (insert big smile here) — or cared about the possible motivation and timing.  This, in spite of the fact that the grey lady had all but telegraphed her true purpose with the inclusion of these words:

Documents released by the White House timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks emphasized the successes that the United States had made in dismantling the top tier of Al Qaeda.

But the real tell came in these sentences, originally from the conclusion of one such manuscript, '9/11 Five Years Later: Success and Challenges.' They'll no doubt sound familiar —— they were heard in sound—bites across the cable, air, and cyber ways virtually every day of last week:

'Since the Sept. 11 attacks, America and its allies are safer, but we are not yet safe ...We have done much to degrade Al Qaeda and its affiliates and to undercut the perceived legitimacy of terrorism.'

Could it be that the newspaper of record, miffed by what it perceived as the politicizing of 9/11, had decided do a little campaigning of its own?  After all, this damning information was already 5 months old!  Yet, Congressional—seat—hungry liberals were ready to swallow the bait — hook, line, and sinker!

These are the Times that try Men's Souls!

The aforementioned Tom Cruise moment by their de facto leader had promptly scattered Democratic apologists across the usual requisite venues to mitigate the impact of the tantrum.  Invariably, and quicker than you can say 'you've got that little smirk on your face,' the tired mantra of 'Bush's war is making us less safe,' or some variation upon that basic theme, was included in all prepared responses to Bill's boorish antics.

So, on top of the material misstatements and outlandish fantasies the former White House tenant had put in play, the administration now had additional slanted, misinformed ranting and raving to deal with.  Consequently, after angrily denouncing whoever revealed the report's findings, President Bush decided to declassify portions of it on Tuesday. 

True to form, the MSM wasted no time dissecting, distorting and disseminating the new information.  Here's how the brazen AP reporting began:

The war in Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic extremists, breeding deep resentment of the U.S. that probably will get worse before it gets better, federal intelligence analysts conclude in a report at odds with President Bush's portrayal of a world growing safer.

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.

These words, mostly subjective, paraphrased, misleading, and without the benefit of the necessary context provided by even the summarized document,  do, indeed, suggest an ominous outcome.  However, one need only read the partial report to understand that it actually contained a balanced mix of both positive and negative appraisals, including these decidedly more optimistic passages, mysteriously omitted from the AP and many other renditions:

We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; 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.

It certainly is worth noting that much of the MSM deemed these two clauses to be less significant than the others.  Both would seem to back up the President's point about the importance of our winning in Iraq because it has become a central battle in the global war against terrorists. 

In fairness, the Times did include both in Tuesday's article. However, in a follow—up published on Wednesday, they emerge fixated on this issue:

Portions of the report appear to bolster Mr. Bush's argument that the only way to defeat the terrorists is to keep unrelenting military pressure on them. But nowhere in the assessment is any evidence to support Mr. Bush's confident—sounding assertion this month in Atlanta that ''America is winning the war on terror.''

Point taken, but then there's no evidence given to the contrary, is there?

Nonetheless, having assumedly read the complete text, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid asked this in his Tuesday response to the declassified information:

'Will they stubbornly follow a failed stay the course strategy that America's intelligence community has concluded makes America less safe, or will they finally admit their mistakes and change course?'

I hope you've had the Times of your life

Of course, Senator Reid, the Times and their fellow left wingers fail to see the irony in the fact that the NIE was assembled  by the same 16 intelligence agencies which unwaveringly insisted that Iraq possessed WMDs.   Furthermore, these were the very assertions which the left invariably refers to as the 'Bush lies' when they, themselves, lie about the nature of the statements which foreran the U.S Iraqi invasion.

But, the real story here is just how much of a non—story this ultimately was.  It contained neither new information, nor opinions not already painfully obvious to anyone who has been paying attention these many years.

Did invading Iraq increase the wherewithal of previously agitated whack—jobs and further serve as a jihad recruitment poster to the disenfranchised?  Very likely!  Just as Kamikaze conscription no doubt increased with every Allied victory in the Pacific theater of World War II.  Was this then or is it now of even the slightest tactical or strategic importance?  Did we halt our advance against the Imperial Japanese Army for fear of such enlistments?

Has Iraq, indeed, become a "magnet" for newly indoctrinated jihadists?  Again, very likely!  However, would somebody be good enough to explain the downside of having the majority of our enemies concentrated in a 170,000 square mile area that is 6000 miles from our shores?

Truth be told, the Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate released Tuesday provided nothing to substantiate the already unsubstantiated liberal glee brought on by the original NYT piece.  Indeed, that article, from its disingenuous title, Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat, to the intentional misrepresentations contained within, surely meets the definition of 'lies' better than anything the President or his minions said as a run—up to the war.

Is it any wonder that Nancy Pelosi wanted to read the report behind closed doors prior to its official release?

Marc Sheppard is a regular contributor.  He welcomes your feedback

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