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Posted by on Sep 27, 2006 in At TMV | 57 comments

Bush’s Release Of Terror Study Could Cost Him (UPDATED)


And now the prevalent question becomes: did an angry, nearly indignant President George W. Bush stir up a hornet’s nest or open up a CostCo-size can of worms by releasing parts of an elite intelligence report to try and show that parts released so far cast the Iraq war’s impact on the war on terror in an inaccurate light?

This WAS supposed to be the big, national security campaign year for the White House and the GOP — the year when Karl Rove & Co would masterfully hammer home the idea that Democrats were weak on national security, dangerous to the nation’s health and that the war in Iraq was vital to meet the terrorists head-on and to contain and eventually defeat them.

It hasn’t worked out that way — and it seems to be working out that way even LESS after Bush’s press conference yesterday, as the LA Times reports:

Declassified portions of a high-level intelligence report released Tuesday describe the war in Iraq as a major catalyst for Islamic radicalism around the world, while also citing other causes for the expanding terrorist threat.

President Bush took the highly unusual step of releasing key findings of the classified intelligence study in an attempt to blunt a growing furor in Washington over news reports this week in which intelligence officials described sections of the document that indicate the war in Iraq has made the terrorism problem worse. The White House said the initial news stories about the National Intelligence Estimate, a report offering a consensus view of U.S. intelligence agencies, did not represent the whole document.

But the release of its principal findings appeared likely to fuel the election-season debate over the impact of the war in Iraq, and provided scant support for the president’s position that the U.S. occupation of the country has made America safer.

Perhaps when the votes are counted the media and some weblogs (such as this one) will be proven to be completely off-base. But at this point George Bush is beginning to appear as a flailing leader, at war not only with countries but with parts of his own party (especially intellectual descendants of conservative Barry Goldwater who have not made expedient attitude or values adjustments to fit in with the new conservatism that is in partnership with social conservatives).

Yesterday’s press conference provided welcome “red meat’ for Bush’s always-there most loyal supporters, but seemed less “We’re Giving ‘Em Hell” than “We’re Going To Hell In A Handbasket”:

At a White House news conference, Bush lashed out at what he suggested was a politically motivated leak of the report’s conclusions, and at critics who have cited the intelligence estimate to question his administration’s course in Iraq and argue that the drawn-out conflict is adding to the danger of terrorism.

“Some people have, you know, guessed what’s in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake,” Bush said, appearing alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “I strongly disagree. I think it’s naive. 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.”

Of course, no one has ever said that.

The issue is the validity of the rationale for going to war and also the way the war has been and is being waged. There are many who have SUPPORTED and SUPPORT the war who believe the way it is being CONDUCTED has been a quintessential example of a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” MORE:

The section released by the White House does not include an explicit conclusion that the war in Iraq has increased the terrorist threat to Americans. But the thrust of the report’s “key judgments” is that the terrorist danger is morphing and growing and that the Iraq war is a major contributing force in that trend.

THE SUPREME IRONY: This is an administration that has suggested that nuance in policy-making, and in political campaigns, sometimes muddies issues.

But now it is relying on nuance — asking the press and public to read the fine print carefully and not to make a snap judgment on X number of words but to look and consider X in the context of Y and Z. MORE:

“We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives,” reads one of the main conclusions of the report.

“The Iraq conflict has become the ’cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”

Among other findings, the report said that Al Qaeda was exploiting the war in Iraq to attract new donors and recruits; that fighters with experience in Iraq were likely to function as leaders in a new generation of militants; and that foreign Al Qaeda fighters were free to leave the country and focus on other targets as more Iraqi militants took their place within Iraq.

In one sense, it matters little: some GOP supporters on talk radio and in some other info areas will immediately ignore, downplay or try to discredit these sections and point to the other ones and accuse those who quote, site or repeat the sections that don’t support the President of being political hacks or tools.

Somehow the question keeps getting lost: are we conducting the best, most effective policy — and if not, how can we fix it?

Simply going after those who raise questions as indulging in electioneering may not work on the Iraq war in 2006. There seems to be feeling now in the land that the Iraq war is NOT just a political football any longer and not a luxury that can be afforded to drag on without some kind of quality control.

The GOP and Bush’s argument that all is well, there will be challenges ahead, but stay the course has been a difficult sell. And now with this new information — released by Bush — several things are likely to happen:

  • Increased skepticism on the part of those who have doubts about the war. This includes some who may wish a more effective, harder-line and who steadfastly oppose a pullout.
  • A clamor to find out about parts of the report that have not been released. Bush released parts of the study. Some will argue that if parts were released than some body such as a bipartisan Senate committee needs to read all of it and release as many other parts as possible before the election. If it is bottled up or doesn’t happen there will likely be a cry of election-year-motivated cover up.
  • A clamor to find out about more reports that are out there.

USA Today has a long editorial. A few parts of it:

President Bush was indignant at his news conference Tuesday over selective leaks from the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on terrorism, saying they came out shortly before the fall elections to “create confusion in the minds of the American people.”

That confusion is understandable. Bush has been insisting that the Iraq war has made the USA safer. The NIE, declassified and released late Tuesday, concludes that the conflict has become a “cause celebre” for Islamic holy warriors and is “shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.”…

…At one level, the NIE merely states the obvious. So obvious, in fact, that it’s hard to understand why most of the “key judgments” were classified in the first place. Whether it was right or wrong to invade Iraq, the war has unquestionably intensified global anger toward the USA and made the world a more dangerous place.

Even so, given the administration’s pre-election spin, it was bracing to hear that conclusion not from left-wing blogs or Democratic screeds but from the distilled judgment of the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies.

At his news conference, Bush correctly noted that the leaks didn’t reflect the full context of the report. And he pointed out that terrorists attacked our embassies, the USS Cole and New York and Washington well before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The great irony, of course, is that Iraq wasn’t what Bush calls “the central front in the war on terror” when U.S. forces invaded in March 2003, but it is now…

…While the intelligence estimate may give satisfaction to the administration’s critics, it does not follow that the proper course now in Iraq is prompt U.S. withdrawal. The NIE notes, correctly, that defeating the jihadists in Iraq would weaken the worldwide movement. The day may come when it’s worse for U.S. forces to stay than go; by the accounts of those on the ground, that day has not arrived but might be approaching.


The New York Times‘ editorial
is blistering. Excerpts:

It’s hard to think of a president and an administration more devoted to secrecy than President Bush and his team. Except, that is, when it suits Mr. Bush politically to give the public a glimpse of the secrets. And so, yesterday, he ordered the declassification of a fraction of a report by United States intelligence agencies on the global terrorist threat.

Mr. Bush said he wanted to release the document so voters would not be confused about terrorism or the war when they voted for Congressional candidates in November. But the three declassified pages from what is certainly a voluminous report told us what any American with a newspaper, television or Internet connection should already know. The invasion of Iraq was a cataclysmic disaster. The current situation will get worse if American forces leave. Unfortunately, neither the report nor the president provide even a glimmer of a suggestion about how to avoid that inevitable disaster. …

…It’s obvious why Mr. Bush did not want this report out, and why it is taking so long for the intelligence agencies to complete another report, solely on Iraq, that was requested by Congress in late July. It’s not credible that more time is needed to do the job. In 2002, the intelligence agencies completed a report on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in less time. Mr. Bush also made selected passages of that report public to buttress his arguments for war with Iraq, most of which proved to be based on fairy tales.

Then, Mr. Bush wanted Americans to focus on how dangerous Saddam Hussein was, and not on the obvious consequences of starting a war in the Middle East. Now, he wants voters to focus on how dangerous the world is, and not on his utter lack of ideas for what to do about it.

Depending on how all this plays out, the White House’s late summer/early September focus on trying to link up the importance of the war in Iraq in the war on terror will prove to be a masterstroke (if GOP and Bush poll numbers keep going on) or an unmitigated disaster for Republicans who are running for re-election.

The questions: (1) what other info will come out? (2) how will this play with the bulk of Americans (not just the lockstep partisans of each party)? (3) what impact will this have on Republicans who are running for re-election plus traditional conservatives who have been upset over the way the war has been conducted?

UPDATES:
–From the standpoint of what message has come from the media after reporters looked over the new intelligence material, it’s clear if you look at the HEADLINES HERE that Bush’s release of the info hurt his case even more.

–The Washington Post’s William Arkin says the left and right are both wrong on this issue and that the Democrat’s view is “simplistic” just as is one of Bush’s key assertions.

Pakistan’s President sayss the Iraq war has not made the world safer from terror:

The war in Iraq has not made the world safer from terror, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has told CNN, saying he stands by statements on the subject he makes in his new book, “In the Line of Fire.”

In the book, Musharraf — a key ally who is often portrayed as being in complete agreement with U.S. President George W. Bush on the war on terror and other issues — writes he never supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

“I stand by it, absolutely,” Musharraf told CNN’s “The Situation Room.” Asked whether he disagreed with Bush, he said, “I’ve stated whatever I had to … it [the war] has made the world a more dangerous place.”

WEBLOG REACTION falls along ideological lines. Rather than quote blogs here’s a cross-section of links you can explore from blogs of varying views: Glenn Reynolds, Right Wing Nut House, The Democratic Daily, Thought Theater, Taylor Marsh, Newsbusters, Americablog, Shakespeare’s Sister, Ann Althouse, Kiko’s House, Michelle Malkin





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  • Truflo

    Its a horrible dilemma Bush has left the country with- does America continue to sacrifice its young men and women to fight in a war that was unnecessary in the first place, breaking the army in the process and weakening America both financially and as a world power capable of calling on friends and allies in times of national crisis. Or do we abandon the people of Iraq to a bloodbath of Rwandan proportions.

    While the mess is of America’s making, or more specifically, the result of a criminally incompetent administration, the consequences of a withdrawal will effect the whole world and further endanger everyone.

    A better president, one the world can trust, could perhaps reconnect the broken ties and build a real coalition of international powers to take in hand what is fast becoming a disaster of unimaginable proportions.

  • Stanley

    This is my first time reading your blog, so my impression may only be a snapshot. Although positioning yourself as a Moderate/Indepeendent, you sound more like a MINO (Moderate in Name Only). I say this because the three editorials you featured (LA Times, USA Today, NYT) have a DEMONSTRATED TRACK RECORD of hostility to this Administration and this war. As far as the substance of whether the Iraq War made us more or less safe, I say MORE SAFE. Why? BECAUSE EVERY TERRORIST KILLED OR CAPTURED THERE IS ONE LESS TERRORIST AVAILABLE TO KILL AMERICANS HERE. And in parting, I ask this, what country had we invaded when we were attacked throughout the 90’s and on 9/11?

  • Yes, your impression is a snap judgment. Mr. Gandelman’s analysis here is mostly free from any bias to either side of the line. The thrust of the post is a clean analysis of the likely political fallout from the declassification of the NIE. The inclusion of the three editorials is done for analysis of the immediate impact on major news outlets, not as tacit support of their theories. When Mr. Gandelman does put forth his opinion, it is prefaced. This, I would argue, is the acme of a Moderate Voice.

    As far as your assertion that “every terrorist killed or captured there is one less terrorist available to kill Americans here,” I only wish to point out that the NIE report which we were discussing here disputes your theory. Say you start with 2 terrorists and America kills one (in Iraq, for example). According to the NIE, the remaining terrorist now takes that death and uses it as a rallying cry to recruit 3 new terrorists, leaving us with a total of 4 terrorists in the end. You have just seen a 100% increase in the number of terrorists. Do you still feel safer?

    Finally, invading countries is not the only thing that is listed in the NIE as a catalyst for breeding terrorists, merely one possibility. General resentment of the U.S. is also listed, which certainly existed well before 1990 (Iran Hostages anyone?). (Also, “begging the question” is a logical fallacy used by those who don’t have substantive debate material.)

  • Asé

    To Stanley:

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.
    – John Stuart Mill

    I fear that from your argument’s illogicality, the latter part of the aphorism applies to you.

    Consider this: Perhaps this method of killing terrorists is like chopping off the limbs of starfish. You’ve only increased their growth rate.

  • Kim Ritter

    It is not opinion that Bush’s poll numbers have slipped on the war in Iraq and other important issues. I think the administration has taken many policy stances that few moderates could agree with: leaking selected parts of an NIE report for political reasons, repeatedly tieing Saddam to 9/11 despite substantial evidence that operational ties did not exist, insisting on using signing statements and other tactics to override a torture ban enacted by congress, refusing to use legal means (the FISA court) for his wiretapping program, awarding sizable contracts and plum positions in his administration to cronies and loyalists rather than competent parties, etc, etc.

    This site should detail to conservatives supporting the president why Bush is losing or has lost the support of moderate Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Most moderates would disagree with an administration that insists on advancing a far right agenda, using national security fears to conflate an unnecessary, poorly planned and costly war and expanding its own powers by ignoring or resisting constitutional and/or legislative restraints.

  • C Stanley

    Stanley,
    Good luck getting anyone to actually think about your view on the slant of Joe’s posts. I’ve been saying the same thing for weeks but there appears to be a group think here that says that all moderates currently have to be radicalized toward the left because the right wingers in power have given them no choice. Any criticism of the Democratic party is not taken seriously at all…instead, the reaction seems to be “How can you possibly criticize the Dems, they’re not the ones in power, how can you not see how the Republicans have screwed up/ruined the country/demolished our freedom (take your pick here).

    Honestly I do think that Joe tries to be somewhat neutral but I doubt that is possible in this format. I think any blog is going to end up having a slant one way or another because simply in the choice of stories presented, one offers a bias to one’s readers. And, again to defend Joe, that bias IMO is present in the MSM anyway, not that I think it is a giant left wing conspiracy but that the media is biased toward controversy and thus tends to cover news that is unflattering to the current administration more thoroughly than anything that could be considered positive.

    Ase:
    Nice way to welcome a new commenter. Yesterday there was a comment thread about chilling free speech; I would like to nominate you for an award in doing so today.

  • Pyst

    “And in parting, I ask this, what country had we invaded when we were attacked throughout the 90’s and on 9/11?”

    Answer: One, Iraq 1991.

    Question: How many country’s, I repeat COUNTRY’S, attacked us in the 90’s and on 9/11.

    Joe’s pretty much down the center on ticking the dyed in wool types off, so either buy a helmet, or move along to LGF for your daily “dose”.

  • Kim Ritter

    C Stanley- The Democrats are out of power -they can’t provide oversight or introduce legislation in Congress. Thus we must rely on decisions that have been introduced by the majority party, which has largely gone along with an administration whose policies are far right of center. Where Republicans have provided oversight— McCain, Graham, Hagel, Snowe and a few others they have gotten respect.

    I have seen many posts on the weakness of Democrats, calls for more unity and clarity of their positions, rebukes for failing to take a stand on issues where they could make a difference.

    But, as we now have one-party government, that party is seen as the most culpable for failures to protect the environment, curb terrorism, respond to natural disasters and conduct a controversial war or its aftermath in a competent manner. Those failures leave that party vulnerable to most of the criticism, just as those looking back at Jimmy Carter’s failures rightly blame Democrats-not Republicans.

    This administration has claimed, falsely, that it is winning the GWOT, that we are safer because of its efforts. This report tempers its boasts with reality. Not reality uncovered by some leftist fringe website, but by sixteen of its own agencies.

  • C Stanley

    I have seen many posts on the weakness of Democrats, calls for more unity and clarity of their positions, rebukes for failing to take a stand on issues where they could make a difference.

    Kim,
    I’m sorry but this is laughable. Whose posts, besides mine and a couple of other peoples’, have questioned the Democrats on anything? And when do one of such posts from me (or again, a small minority who also feel the way I do), ever meet with a reasonable attempt by others to look at the Democrats with any objectivity? Instead, every time I bring it up, I’m derided for being blind to what the Republicans are doing.

    All I’m trying to do is ask people to be careful not to replace one group of bad apples with another, but there is no serious attempt on the part of most of the ‘moderates’ here to heed that caution. Somehow the point is missed that this type of thinking (throw out the party in power and put anyone else in their place, without regard to what that other party is offering) is dangerous. Why dangerous? Because it gives an opportunity for the opposition party to put forth candidates that don’t really reflect the views of the voters, but rather represent a knee jerk protest vote.

  • Holly in Cincinnati

    Now Bush is leaking.

  • WEBLOG REACTION is falls along ideological lines.

    At this point I doubt that I’ll even post about it all, Joe. What’s been released looks like a crystal ball: you see in it what you want to see.

    It would be nice to be able to discuss this stuff dispassionately. I guess politics is not a creature of reason but of the passions.

  • Pug

    BECAUSE EVERY TERRORIST KILLED OR CAPTURED THERE IS ONE LESS TERRORIST AVAILABLE TO KILL AMERICANS HERE.

    Unfortunately, the corollary to this statement would be: For every American soldier killed in Iraq there is one less soldier available to kill terrorists.

    There is no shortage of terrorists and the NIE made the point that the war in Iraq is helping recruit new terrorists.

  • Truflo

    I believe Condoleezza Rice has been all over the place contradicting Clinton’s assertion that the Bush administration failed to act on the Bin Laden memo. Apparently she is under the impression that the 9/11 commission’s report disputes his reading.

    Here’s what the report says:

    “[President Bush] did not recall discussing the August 6 report with the Attorney General or whether Rice had done so.[p. 260]

    We have found no indication of any further discussion before September 11 among the President and his top advisers of the possibility of a threat of an al Qaeda attack in the United States. DCI Tenet visited President Bush in Crawford, Texas, on August 17 and participated in the PDB briefings of the President between August 31 (after the President had returned to Washington) and September 10. But Tenet does not recall any discussions with the President of the domestic threat during this period.” [p. 262]

    This, along with Commission member Ben-Venista’s ‘I didn’t know I could do that’ Bush quote, and the picture grows clearer, and more tragic.

  • Jim S

    C Stanley,

    I notice that you refuse to consider the possiblity that we would be replacing rotting, putrid apples with slightly over-ripe ones. No nuance, no shades of grey. Yes, replacing the current crop of Republicans with any Democrat is better, IMO. The current crop does nothing but rubber-stamp the Bush administration and that’s got to stop. The senator in my state that’s up for re-election votes with Bush 96% of the time. His only ads have either bragged about his votes doing that or attacked his opponent through very carefully chosen and edited selections from newspapers. We’re spending $8 billion a month on Iraq and Bush wants more tax cuts. That doesn’t count the many billions more that the Pentagon (justifiably) wants and needs to replace equipment that’s been worn out and destroyed in Iraq. The Republicans in Congress are more than willing to give them to him. The Democrats can do nothing about it in our system. So yes, we do need to replace Republicans. Lots of them.

  • Jim S

    Has anyone else guessed that the released part of the NIE is probably the part that reflects best on the Administration and its policies?

  • C Stanley

    Jim S (mail):
    Has anyone else guessed that the released part of the NIE is probably the part that reflects best on the Administration and its policies?

    Yep, just as the part that was leaked to the NYT was the part that reflected poorly on the policies.

    I notice that you refuse to consider the possiblity that we would be replacing rotting, putrid apples with slightly over-ripe ones.

    I’m perfectly willing to consider that possibility, but it is you who won’t consider the possibility that the replacements might be rotting and putrid too.

  • Rudi

    C Stanley,
    First you attack the Left of center commenters for having a closed mind and adding nothing to the discussion. Now, you attack Joe G for being a MINO – LOL. Joe is one of the few bloggers here at TMV who actually tries to be a moderate or show no bias. Why lately have you joined us “moonbats” with all the attacks?

  • Jim S

    Here’s a column that reflects my views on why I won’t vote for any Republican, not that any of the ones in my state even attempt to be moderate.

  • Jim S

    C Stanley,

    It’s not that I won’t consider it. I just don’t see any Democrats (except for one in New Jersey) who are as bad as the current crop of Republicans.

    Also, the portion of the NIE released by Bush basically says the same thing that the leak said. And that’s the best that Bush could find to defend himself. That’s the point I was trying to make.

  • Kim Ritter

    C Stanley- I’m not going to pretend that I’m without bias towards the Democrats. But I have seen a substantial number of posts besides yours, discussing Democratic weaknesses, and why they continue to lose elections. I have written some of them myself-criticizing some of the Democratic leadership and advocating greater unity in the party in the face of competition with a superbly funded and organized Republican party. Maybe you haven’t read as many comments as you think.

    We have also discussed the virtues of two-party government. It forces bi-partisan compromise and restrains rash policies-in effect providing moderation. Many of the problems we are experiencing today are due to complacency that comes from a consolidation of power, and an overconcentration on party loyalty. We had similar problems when the Democrats held the presidency and both houses of Congress.

    You want the kind of answers from candidates that no one is going to provide right before an election. Regarding Iraq, thanks to the Bush administration’s bumbling, we now face an intractable situation, with no good options. That is probably why many Democrats are not coming out with comprehensive plans. I don’t particulary admire their lack of intellectual honesty, but in the political environment they are facing, where every word will be twisted in negative campaign ads by a well-funded opposition party that excels at half-truths and swift-boating, its probably to be expected.

    I agree with you that Biden is probably the most willing to stick his neck out about Iraq. Others should follow in his example, but both sides have ducked the hard realities of the situation.

  • Elrod

    The right-of-center critiques are quite telling. They fall along the following lines:

    a) This is obvious. The NIE is just a vague judgment and not really helpful (Glenn Reynolds)

    b) Iraq is only one motivator, not the only motivator for jihadism. Democratization is the best way to ease the threat of jihadism. And pulling out would give the jihadists the great victory. (Rich Moran)

    c) The NIE doesn’t realize that Muslims are violent thugs. How could Iraq make any difference? (Michelle Malkin)

    Excepting Malkin’s usual idiocy, the other conservative critiques have a lot of merit. Reynolds is right in saying that this summary of the NIE is pretty vague. But I suppose the larger NIE document would be more specific.

    Moran’s points are quite accurate. Indeed, Al Qaeda had plenty of grievances before 2003 – many of which are still there. Liberalization and democratization would indeed relieve some of the pressures in the Muslim world that feed jihadism. And completely withdrawing from Iraq would confirm the jihadists’ belief that they can challenge the great powers.

    The problem for Moran is that the failures of current Iraq policy up to now have led us to this quandary. It may not be the democratization plan in theory that hurts us, but the way in which we’ve followed through has undermined the overall effort. Quite simply, nobody in the Arab world wants Iraqi-style democracy, with all the requisite civil war, terrorism and extremism stuff. And the reason pulling out would be so dangerous is that it would merely confirm the obvious: we aren’t winning in Iraq. Our continued difficulty in finding enough troops makes this even more acute. Doubling the military presence would help. But where would we get the troops? A draft? We’re not THAT serious about winning in Iraq, are we?

  • egrubs

    Assuming you know nothing else:

    Chart this country’s path and success re: Iraq. Look a little bit at our history.

    Decide: do you want an anonymous administration, one you know nothing about? Would you rather continue along the path we’re on now. (Because that’s what’s being argued: stay the course.)

    This is -if- you assume you know nothing about the Democrats because they’re simply the anti-Bush.

    Personally, I’m not pro-Dem. But I’m very, very, very anti-the-way-we’ve-handled-this-Iraq-thing.

  • C Stanley

    You want the kind of answers from candidates that no one is going to provide right before an election.

    Kim,
    I think that ties in with MvdG’s other post about negative campaigning. Like everyone else, I’m trying to figure out how we demand something better from the leaders of both parties (or if that isn’t possible, then how do we change the whole system or foster a more populist driven third party)

    And also ties in with your quote, that we get the government we deserve.

  • C Stanley

    Elrod,
    I agree with you here:

    The problem for Moran is that the failures of current Iraq policy up to now have led us to this quandary. It may not be the democratization plan in theory that hurts us, but the way in which we’ve followed through has undermined the overall effort.

    That is the problem not only for Moran but for the Republican party.

    I will add one more right-of-center critique (I haven’t visited any of the blogs listed so I don’t know if someone is saying this already). I find it rather ironic that the left tried to seize on an NIE report to repudiate Bush’s policies. After all, the same critics wouldn’t exactly have given credence to this NIE report“>this particular past NIE report, now, would they have?

  • C Stanley

    Sorry, I messed up the link but this is the previous NIE report to which I was referring.

  • Kim Ritter

    CS- I’m with you on the third party idea, and agree that negative ads detract from good government, and only add to the sleaze factor. But getting it to work is another thing entirely. Funding a third party as the Greens and Libertarians have found out is extremely difficult, as most interest groups contribute heavily to the two major parties.

    In addition successful political parties have to maintain national organizations and branches in all fifty states to be successful, which takes time and money.

    Finally, I would support it if there was a mechanism in place to force a runoff of the two top candidates if the winner received less than 50%. Otherwise a candidate with 34% could be in charge of leading the country. We’ve already experienced the problems you get when each candidate gets close to 50%!

    I’ve wondered for a while if it would help if more people registered as Independents. Would mass removal of names from the two parties’ voting lists send the right message, or would it only serve to weaken the voting strength of Independents, as they cannot vote in primaries in many states????

  • Kim Ritter

    Good points, Elrod. The real problem with Iraq is there are no good options. Withdrawel will be seen as victory over the occupier by jihadists and leave a vacuum for Shiite militia, Sunni insurgents and al queda. They will take it as a sign that we can’t stick it out when the situation gets tough, because our system of democracy puts such a high premium on public opinion. Sectarian violence will lead to out-and-out civil war, and we will have the bloodshed and destruction of a nation on our collective conscience. Our prestige in the world will suffer greatly, and other regional powers may get drawn in, creating a regional war. The price of oil may skyrocket, hurting the world economy.

    If we stay, it will be taken as a sign that Americans really do want to occupy Arab lands and destroy their Islamic customs and laws. The new generation of Arab youth will be radicalized (as is already happening according to the NIE) and form a threat to secularized, moderate governments that have dealings with the U.S. Our military will continue to be overtaxed and our troops will have to continue fighting with outdated, inadequate equipment. Generations from now, our grandchildren will still bear the cost of this war. We will be unable to respond to other threats we face, because we are bogged down in two unwinnable wars. OSB wanted us to get bogged down in Afghanistan the way the Soviets did, a major factor leading to their defeat as an empire. He will have gotten his wish as he sees us struggling to prop up a weak democracy and prevent escalating violence from spiraling into complete civil war.

    Now, what candidate in their right mind,running in the midterms would want to bring up this scenario?

  • jjc

    CS

    I’m sorry but this is laughable. Whose posts, besides mine and a couple of other peoples’, have questioned the Democrats on anything? And when do one of such posts from me (or again, a small minority who also feel the way I do), ever meet with a reasonable attempt by others to look at the Democrats with any objectivity? Instead, every time I bring it up, I’m derided for being blind to what the Republicans are doing.

    I’m a left-winger who’s complained plenty about Democrats–at one point recently didn’t even want to write the party name.

    Your commentary seems decidedly emotional on this thread, something you’ve occasionally accused your opponents of.

    While I’m a confessed left-winger, the majority of commenters have called themselves moderates. I believe them. Do you?

    If you’re having your doubts, that’s a clear reflection on your own objectivity. Many moderates are saying that this Administration and this Congress are so bad that it could hardly get worse no matter who you replace them with.

    I know that’s an objectionable idea to you, but it’s steadily gaining in currency. My observation is that the only thing holding the tide back is that many commenters here don’t like the Democrats much better.

    As for your being derided for being blind to what the Republicans are doing, two things: mostly it isn’t true and you’ve overreacted to those instances where it did happen, and such criticisms as you do offer of Republicans are more often than not of a “yes, but” nature, not to mention that they are concessions that even a minimal amount of intellectual integrity would demand.

    Many people very reasonably believe that Rovian Republicans, which is certainly the dominant strain, are ruining the country. Obviously it’s fair for you to disagree with that, but you have to get over the idea that it’s unreasonble for your opponents to believe this in light of glaringly apparent developments such as corruption and mismanagement in Iraq, Katrina, and the incessant resort to corrosive rhetoric in the attempt to hold onto power for its own sake.

  • C Stanley

    jjc,
    I don’t dispute that many of the commenters and bloggers here truly define themselves as moderates. They have every right to feel angry at this administration and even to focus the majority of their discussions on the shortcomings of this administration. What I’ve been objecting to in this thread and others recently is that as moderates, they are IMO neglecting another part of their responsibility: guarding against extremism from the opposing party. I am trying to advance the argument (without much success, apparently), that there is danger in replacing one group with another simply for the sake of change, because the opposing group will take advantage of the sentiment for change and will tend to use that opportunity to put its more extreme candidates in power during such a time.

    And I don’t dispute that the current incarnation of the Republican party is damaging, not only to the country, but to the party as well. I suppose part of my defensiveness is from being lumped into the same category simply because I don’t sing the chorus loudly enough for some of you.

  • sue

    Now, I will admit, this report makes points on both sides of the issue, but the underlying conclusions make it very clear that we are substantially safer if we win in Iraq than if we didn’t. If we triumph and help Iraq establish themselves as a Democracy, the middle east will be one step closer to stabilization, and we will have a lesser risk of a major attack in America.

    • 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.

    In regards to the leak in the NYT, amazing that this little tidbit of information didn’t make the front page.

    I would like to comment on Ted Kennedy, Democratic lawmakers and the political games they are playing with our lives. To suggest that the “entire report” be declassified, in an political attempt to cast shadows on the parts that have been released, bring up a couple issues.

    One: The report would not have been classified to begin with if everything in the report could be released.

    Second: Most important in my mind is that, suggesting that the entire report be released, knowing that doing so would put our sources, our ability to collect sensitive intelligence, and our country at risk, shows a distinctive distain of the worth of American lives in relation to the importance of political gain.

    It also shows that Ted Kennedy and the democratic lawmakers, are proving once again that they cannot be trusted with the security of our country. It is said that they are weak on terror, because they are!

    For the record: I did not vote for George Bush, all my life I have voted Democrat. Times change.

  • Kim Ritter

    C Stanley-

    I am trying to advance the argument that there is anotdanger in advancing one group with her simply for the sake of change because the opposing group will take advantage of the sentiment. . . to put its more extreme candidates in power

    Yes, that is how we got where we are with today’s Republicans, imo. After Newt Gingrich’s ’94 Republican Revolution, a majority of conservative Republicans took over both houses, because of widespread dissatisfaction with Democrats. This group -one of which was Tom Delay, understotd how to obtain and retain power for its own sake.

    I am not aware of many Democratic extremists running. I know Jim Webb, a Republican -turned conservative Democrat is running, and a lot of ex-military are running as Democrats. Ned Lamont is running- but I consider him a moderate- who opposes Bush and the war in Iraq. Who do you consider an extremist? Are you worried about Nancy Pelosi?

  • C Stanley

    Kim,
    Yes, Pelosi is part of my concern, but I guess even more so, that the Dems chose her to lead. What does that say about their leanings, on the whole?

  • egrubs

    That we’re anti-war in Iraq and pro-EPA?

    What are you getting at here? Back that statement up.

    Yeah…Lamont and Webb chose Pelosi to be their leader….

    Yeah…all those other Dems are closet San Francisco Democrats (read: gay lovers).

    There’s a lot of innuendo in a statement with no backing.

    What does that say about the leanings of the Democrats, that Nancy Pelosi has a lead position? Why don’t you tell me, since it seems you’re the one assuming something here.

  • Kim Ritter

    I’m not convinced that she offers strong enough leadership, and she is more liberal than a lot of the country-but I still believe we need divided government for checks and balances to work. I honestly feel one-party rule has been a catastrophe.

    If they win the House and she screws up, you have can vote the Dems out in ’08. Conservatives will still have considerable power, and her victory will serve to galvanize their base. I see the bigger risk in going on as we have been-with chaos, incompetence and arrogance.

    One thing, I live in a blue state, so my vote isn’t going to save the world or destroy it either!

  • jjc

    CS:

    I am trying to advance the argument (without much success, apparently), that there is danger in replacing one group with another simply for the sake of change, because the opposing group will take advantage of the sentiment for change and will tend to use that opportunity to put its more extreme candidates in power during such a time.

    I think your lack of apparent success has a lot to do with the sense many people have that the greater danger is failing for whatever reason to replace those Congresspersons who have stood by and watched while the Administration governs with reckless abandon.

    You appear to many (including me sometimes) to be demanding undue deliberation about accepting help from whoever will stop the thugs who are mugging us.

    As far as Pelosi is concerned, at least she’s better than Dick Gephardt. Beyond that, I don’t have much good to say about her. I suspect there’s something about career politicians who eventually claw their way to party leadership positions that leaves me uninspired.

    Well, one more thing–she’s better than John Boehner, who I’m sure has an excellent golf game.

  • C Stanley

    You appear to many (including me sometimes) to be demanding undue deliberation about accepting help from whoever will stop the thugs who are mugging us.

    Fair enough, I suppose. I hope it’s recognized, though, that I’m giving a large amount of credit to moderates/centrists because I believe that they hold the keys to change. I just became concerned when I started peeking in at this moderate blog and saw the extent of criticism of Republicans (understandable) while criticism of the left was hard to find. I guess my expectation was more deliberation of the type: the status quo is unacceptable, so what do we want instead?

  • Kim Ritter

    C Stanley- My experience with voting has been that usually I’m picking the least offensive choice. Maybe someday we will actually have a three-party system that works, but for now its not really that much of a stretch to decide that the group in power has abused it and will use any more time in office to consolidate power even further. I make the assumption from the start that both sides are flawed-no perfectly ethical people succeed in politics.

    I know we were talking about negative ads in an earlier thread- it seems they are successful because most people vote against what they don’t want, rather than what they do. A lot of Kerry’s vote in 2004 was anti-Bush.

    If we don’t send a message that business as usual is destroying our democracy we may not have a chance to later. The Republicans have been trying to establish a permanent majority since Nixon, and some of Bush’s people are left over from that era. I believe it is still a prominent goal for them. Karl Rove once worked as a young man for Donald Segretti- Nixon’s dirty tricks guy. I think in his case the apprentice has become the master.

  • Rudi

    Can Pelosi be any worse or a flip-flopper like Frist. Another fine leader, both political and moral, was Tom Delay. CS worries about Demo leaders when the Repub give us Delay, Frist and Stevens(Bridge to nowhere).

  • The Iraqi leader had about two years before the War in of which Civil War would have taken his life and of which would be without this problematic issue at where he had been taken alive so that so many could be killed. There is no phenom there; air Strikes could of dealt those blows in of which so that there would not of had been of this particualr problem at where that he had been taken alive, yet considering the certainty of his priori War over-throw of this man and his sons that had such a back-ground where the battle-cry by his own would of been loud and clear if he or there was WMD. Bush, when I seen him that day, blow-horn in hand and at a time and a place that came from all the oil pirating and herion trafficking, I wondered if America would become just as proud in the face of these obvious delusions, being that these Americans thought that they could hob-nob with the likes of these terrorists and coordinate these threats on US soil in the name of WMD in of what was actually oil priracy and drug trafficking. Whatever may be, Newton Physics and cosmology does gravitate, so with this mistake, this constant, it is profoundly unwise to materialize major WMD in a field space that will not occupy these biochemical patterns of behavior. I really believe that the President of the United States is, literally, “drunk.” Now, with Iran, again, our threat is our own WMD, lying in wait to be of what had really happened in South Asia and of which was a payload that detonated in of which caused that event underwater. Yes, I dared, and I post!

    ECMcCready

  • MichaelF

    Sue said :

    One: The report would not have been classified to begin with if everything in the report could be released.

    Second: Most important in my mind is that, suggesting that the entire report be released, knowing that doing so would put our sources, our ability to collect sensitive intelligence, and our country at risk, shows a distinctive distain of the worth of American lives in relation to the importance of political gain.

    It also shows that Ted Kennedy and the democratic lawmakers, are proving once again that they cannot be trusted with the security of our country. It is said that they are weak on terror, because they are!

    Damn good comments Sue . Now that I think of it , didn’t the Democrats CONDEMN the idea of leaks as dangerous ? Remember Valarie Plame ? We can’t have leaks … except when it suits our agenda .Will there be calls for an investigation into the leak ?

    C Stanley said :
    Kim,
    Yes, Pelosi is part of my concern, but I guess even more so, that the Dems chose her to lead. What does that say about their leanings, on the whole?

    Awsome point C Stanley . May I also point out who they voted as the voice of their party … HOWARD DEAN ! We know where the Democrats stand . Each has to play to a constituency. But they form a group which has it’s own unique voice.

  • Kim Ritter

    Michael F- The party in power has had control of Congress since ’94, and the WH since 2000. If they hadn’t blown it royally on just about everything they touched we wouldn’t be at the point where just about anyone else would be an improvement. Therefore you don’t have bragging rights, and you don’t get to say jack about the other side.

    At least Nancy Pelosi wasn’t forced out of her house leadership position because she was under indictment (Delay)! At least she isn’t under investigation by the SEC (Frist). And at least Nancy Pelosi didn’t rubber stamp us into an unnecessary, expensive, unwinnable war. She was against it from the beginning, and on that alone she’d have my vote if I lived in California.And I admire the fact that she’s not in denial about global warming like your party is. For all their chest pounding the leadership of this Republican Congress has hit a historic low for ethics and corruption.

  • Well, I did quit smoking. I had a leak once, took in
    the side and was supposed to eat it duirng the derogatory apathy, yet I did a lot of TM and woke bright eyed and “Bushy” tailed after the flat-line without a mermaid. Hey! Seriously, we should shoot some shit some more-drop some of that bathtub at about where Katrina is=t- last I heard it was Italy? Um?!!? I tellin’!

  • Stanley

    I see that my post this morning generated a fair amount of feedback. Good. I read every subsequent post and say thanks for providing THOUGHTFUL FEEDBACK. Just a few thoughts in reply. To the question “What country had we invaded before the attacks durung rhe 90’s and on 9/11”? someone responded “IRAQ”. Whoa! We didn’t go into Iraq in 1991. Remember? So my question still stands. I ask this because if, as some deduce from the NIE, invading Iraq INCREASED terrorism, I’d like someone to explain all those previous attacks on us when we were SUPPOSEDLY loved and respected. Our adversaries are BULLIES. Most of us have had experience with bullies at some point in our lives. Did placation or accomodation get you off the hook? Or did you just go two miles out of your way to avoid contact? Our adversaries have demonstrated that just about ANYTHING will put them in “terrorism mode”…a cartoon, a play, an American press credential, a Pope’s comment, etc, etc. It doesn’t take much. To cite The Iraq War as THE REASON for increased terrorism is, I THINK, an exercise an in self-delusion. Tell me where I’m wrong.

  • Jim S

    C Stanley,

    You posted “I am trying to advance the argument (without much success, apparently), that there is danger in replacing one group with another simply for the sake of change, because the opposing group will take advantage of the sentiment for change and will tend to use that opportunity to put its more extreme candidates in power during such a time.”.

    One big reason for your failure is that many moderates recognize where moderation lies in spite of the constant attempts of the Republican party to redefine it. Frankly, right now in American politics politicians who are right-wing extremists outnumber those from the left because in most of the country extremist left wing candidates haven’t stood a chance in years. They aren’t suddenly materializing from nowhere and most of the ones being labeled as such by their opponents aren’t really extremists. I just saw several ads in a row from a Republican front group (Progress for America), the Republican Senatorial Committee and from the Republican candidate who rubberstamps everything Bush does. Two attack McCaskill and the other one talks about how the media isn’t telling the truth about Iraq because we’re really making progress and we can’t cut and run. You expect me to worry about some fictional Democratic extremist that doesn’t exist?

  • jjc

    MichaelF May I also point out who they voted as the voice of their party … HOWARD DEAN !

    Yeah, because OSAMA BIN LADEN wasn’t available!!!

    That Howard Dean, he CRAZY man!! He say, capturing Saddam Hussein don’t make America safer–that just CRAZY!!

    Whew, where was I? Oh, we’re talking about party leadership? Dick Cheney! Now that’s what the country needs! Don’t tell nobody nothin’ never. Tell ’em all to go F*** themselves!! That’s leadership!!

    And didn’t we see a fine example of party leadership in action when Terry Schiavo was all ready to jump out of her hospital bed and dance a jig, except her nasty husband was going to have her feeding tube disconnected after fifteen years. Lucky for Terry we had doughty goopers on the case!

    George W Bush could stay behind and strum a guitar while whole bunches of certain kinds of New Orleansians drowned, but darned if he didn’t end his vacation prematurely when Terry called. Well, not exactly Terry but, you know.

    Okay, I’m a little sensitive about Howard Dean.

  • MichaelF

    jjc said :Yeah, because OSAMA BIN LADEN wasn’t available!!!

    That Howard Dean, he CRAZY man!! He say, capturing Saddam Hussein don’t make America safer–that just CRAZY!!

    Okay, I’m a little sensitive about Howard Dean

    More than a little. Very defensive in fact. My point stands and you should be happy that it does.

    The Dems chose Dean as their voice. I find that very telling.

  • jjc

    You’ve made your “very telling” point twice, adding the assertion that it “stands,” and I still don’t get it, maybe because of my uber-defensiveness.

    So pray tell, if I’m allowed to ask, what is your point?

  • Jim S

    MichaelF may find Howard Dean very telling but I find the Terry Schiavo case very telling about what the Republican party is all about. And it’s definitely part of the reason I won’t vote for any Republican

  • C Stanley

    Jim S,
    That is exactly the point: both parties are becoming more radicalized and being led by their extremists.

  • egrubs

    The Democratic party has a leadership?

  • Kim Ritter

    CS- You’ve still never explained what you see in the Democratic leadership that demonstrates that they are “being led by extremists”. Is it the war, the environment, the fact that they are pro-choice-what?

  • jjc

    CS both parties are becoming more radicalized and being led by their extremists.

    This is the point where people start asking you what you’re smoking.

    Notice what’s gone on with the torture and surveillance debates? I can only wish the Dems were speaking up like a radicalized party. Torture, habeas corpus, domestic surveillance–all root issues for me. For the Dem leadership, not so much.

    Dems are worthy of much criticism, but your fear of their being radicalized is equalled by that of their own leadership.

  • C Stanley

    Kim,
    I do disagree with them on issues and think that many moderates/centrists probably do as well; but really my concerns are more to do with the tone of the rhetoric. It seems to me that most everyone here is highly critical of this administration for being divisive, so your goal should be to work toward a remedy for that. Putting divisive people from the Democratic party into the leadership of Congress isn’t a means to that end, IMO.

  • Jim S

    I’m sorry CS, but I don’t see anyone in the Democratic party in real positions of power (I don’t consider their existence enough.) as divisive as Bush, Cheney, Rove, Frist, DeLay’s heir apparent Boehner and their type. If I vote for any Republican I give that group of people power and their Democratic equivalents just aren’t as far to the left as the Republicans are to the right.

  • MichaelF

    jjc said :
    You’ve made your “very telling” point twice, adding the assertion that it “stands,” and I still don’t get it, maybe because of my uber-defensiveness.

    So pray tell, if I’m allowed to ask, what is your point?

    It really should be quite clear .
    Many politicians are far more radical than they show to their constituents. But their true stripes eventually shine through as is the case with the choice of Howard Dean as Committee Chairman .

  • jjc

    It really should be quite clear .
    Many politicians are far more radical than they show to their constituents. But their true stripes eventually shine through as is the case with the choice of Howard Dean as Committee Chairman .

    Clarity like this is a rare thing.

    So it’s not Dean who’s radical, but who chose him, or maybe everybody, except Dean’s pretty much of a centrist who opposed the Iraq War and ran for DNC Chairman promising to rebuild the party infrastructure. Which makes everybody radical?

    Quite clear indeed.

  • MichaelF

    read it again slowly . Think . Perhaps you will get it the third time .

    PING:
    TITLE: The President was right: the NIE document was leaked for political purposes
    BLOG NAME: Sister Toldjah
    Yesterday in his (rightly) angry answer to questions liberally biased reporter Jennifer Loven made regarding the leaked NIE report that supposedly said that the Iraq war made terrorism worse, the President Bush claimed that select contents of this docu…

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