September 24, 2006

Are we safer?

We've heard that question a lot over the past few years. Now:
An intelligence assessment that the war in Iraq increased Islamic radicalism, worsening the terror threat, set off a sharp debate today among American political officials over credit and blame for the war and the broader fight against terrorism....

The new intelligence report, the National Intelligence Estimate, implicitly questioned assertions from Bush administration officials that the United States is now safer from terrorism than it was before Sept. 11, 2001, if not yet entirely safe, and that it would be less so under Democratic leadership.

Comments? You know you have to face up to this.

87 comments:

Maxine Weiss said...

Yes and no.

We are and we aren't.

Peace, Maxine

S.T. Steiner said...

It seems as though America is safe from American-bred terrorists, as the police/fbi are pretty efficient in their jobs. Most American Muslims I have spoken with love the 'ole USA and would never want to return to their original soil, peace- and freedom-loving people, Gott sei Dank! Unfortunately, the UK has its share of problems foiling terror plots orchestrated by its own citizens.

I think after 9/11, we are all more vigilant, and also aware of our human limitations in terms of security, but I do think that we are now safer. At the very least, we know to avoid those situations that might raise that question, of whether or not we are safe. Olympics in London 2012 ~ think twice.

AJ Lynch said...

How can you even believe our own intelligience reports after the abject failure over Iraq's WMD? Wasn't Tenet quoted as saying it is a slam dunk?

Don't you have to be skeptical about this report and others that claim Iraq has been great for terrorist recruiting- how the f do they know - do they station reporters or spies outside the recruiting offices (lol) and do headcounts of visitors?

Lastly, the usual suspects (LAT, NYT, my Philly Inquirer, the Post) reported this latest "intelligence report" on their front pages. And of course Harry Reid and company are piling on too.

Shanna said...

I think to a certain extent we're safer just by virtue of knowing that we are under attack. The more closely people are paying attention, the more likely we are to catch terrorists before they can make their move.

I don't know if the things Bush has done will make us safer in the long run or not. It seems too soon to tell about Iraq.

J said...
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Simon said...

So far as I can tell, the article never actually links to the report. So what we're basically left with is not to "Face up" to what the report says, but to "face up" to whether we trust the New Tork Times to accurately characterize the report. And the answer is "not really." When the NYT starts trusrting its readers to make their own judgements by making the report available, thereby allowing us to immediately verify its claims, I might start trusting what it says.

J said...

I don't know that it's possible to say whether we're safer, though st's point about vigilance is a good one. Would we be safer trying to appease Islamic radicals?

Also, I don't know whether increasing Islamic radicalism increases the terror threat here or not - I suspect the group of those radicals that wants to attend protests and scream for the death of the Pope is a little larger than the group that wants to "martyr" itself.

Finally, one of my first reactions to a statement like

"the National Intelligence Estimate...implicitly questioned assertions from Bush administration officials that the United States is now safer from terrorism than it was before Sept. 11, 2001, if not yet entirely safe, and that it would be less so under Democratic leadership"

is, "I'll be the judge of that". Alas, there's no link in the article to the actual NIE. Does that document really assess national security based on hypothetical election results in the US? According to the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5375064.stm ), the NYT staff hasn't even seen it, though I'm sure their sources have no axe to grind

DookOfURL said...

It's important to note that only a portion of the report was leaked---the most anti-Bush portion, I'm sure.

The WH says that the complete report paints a completely different picture.

This could be just more CIA CYA.

I want to see the whole report before I make the call. I'm sure the NYTimes was happy to print whatever their agenda-driven source gave them.

Pathetic, but typical.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Does the NIE really discuss the rise in Islamic radicalism only in connection with the war in Iraq? I seem to recall us attacking a certain other country that was actually run by Islamic radicals; are they assuming that because the Afghan war is popular here it must be popular there?

"J", you can be sure that as sure as the NYT staff sees the NIE themselves they'll tell us all about it: it's classified.

Joe said...

“The National Intelligence Estimate provides jarring confirmation that the disastrous policy in Iraq is a giant recruiting poster for terrorists,” Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said in a statement.>
Islamic fundamentalism did not seem to have much trouble expanding and recruiting terrorists pre 9-11, and we have not been hit since, so I am going with the results here. 9-11 represents a huge increment in al qaida's war against the US. There is no reason to believe that a passive response to the 9-11 attacks would make us safer, either. We are better off having invaded.

Jim said...

If I were falsely detained, rendered up to Syrian torture and then barred from suing my torturers or the CIA folks and their superiors who ordered the torture and who are then declared immune from criminal prosecution, I would terminally abandon all hope in finding justice in the courts of a supposed "nation of laws" and go right to Plan B.

Not until the consequences of Amerika's war against freedom are carried to our gated-community Whites will Amerika begin to return to Freedom and the American Way.

Doyle said...

Have to face up to this, eh, Ann?

Clearly the joke's on you. Judging from the commments here, there is nothing that will shake some people's faith in the righteousness and/or effectiveness of the Iraq War. Their brains have been completely Freedom fried.

National Intelligence Estimate? Probably just more Defeatocrat propaganda.

Ken Mitchell said...

First, I do not entirely trust the NIE to reflect _current_ thinking about _future_ threats, given that they so often reflect only the PAST.

Second, the NIE is classified; only the part leaked is printed. DookofURL makes this point better than I would have. The leakers no doubt have their own motives for leaking it.

Third, are we even sure that this accurately reflects the content of the NIE? Tom Clancy talks about a "canary trap", a method to identify and prosecute leakers if they leak actual quotes from documents. So this is probably a re-writing and re-phrasing, but is it an accurate restatement? We don't know.

4th, the editorial biases of the NYT are well known.

I don't entirely believe it.

Stephen said...

A bit over the top, but this response makes a fair point:

'First of all, the U.S. has not declared war on all forms of terrorism, and not all terrorism is created equal. The creation of thousands of rock-throwing yahoos raging impotently in the streets is of little concern to the United States. The Unites States is concerned specifically about "terrorism of global reach."'

Simon said...

Doyle,
I take it that you do not think of Fox News as a scrupulously non-partisan source of news. Now, if Fox News ran a story in which they characterized a classified document as completely vindicating the Bush administration's policy, and if Fox didn't link to that document, and - worse yet - if a news source universally regarded as being fairly sympathetic to Fox said that "fox has not seen the report, but spoke to people familiar with it" to prepare that report, do you feel that YOU would have something to answer for?

Doyle said...

I believe that, despite the fact that it was reported in the NYT, the NIE does in fact support the crazy theory that the Iraq War has increased the risk of terrorist attack.

I happened to subscribe to that theory already, though, so maybe I'm biased or something.

Cedarford said...

Part of fighting a war is to be brutally honest and objective and not let partisan loyalties cripple the effort.

While especially true of Democrats, if we are willing to be realistic, we must also admit if our Beloved Maximum War Leader has flubbed up royally and Iraq is a near-disaster.

The NYTimes may have only released excerpts and the full NIE may have positive elements left out to best advance their Leftist interests, but a few facts:

*We diverted attention, troops, and nation-building resources from Afghanistan to the Iraq theater. Then the Taliban reconstituted itself during the neglect..

*Our accomplishments in Iraq is that we saved the Kurds to royally piss off Turkey with their independence movement, and saved 60% of the country that hates us infidels and wish them dead from the 20% of Sunnis that hate us and wish us dead. Now we are dying and being maimed to save our Sunni killers from being killed.

*We have set up Iran as the dominant power of the region - much to the dismay of the neocons -that urged the regime change in Iraq from erroneously thinking Iraq was Israel's greatest enemy.

*It is pretty clear that a coterie of terrorist aspirants have been drawn into the cause by the global media convincing them that we invaded Iraq for it's oil and to start the process of militarily subduing all Muslim nations for corporations and Zionists. The new terrorist cadres may be entirely wrong in those perceptions, but perceptions are reality.

*By fighting war on the cheap and not being willing to jeopardize the tax cuts for wealthy or ask any other American to sacrafice other than the 3% in military families....we are pinned down in a war that consumes 70% of military ground forces and half military spending - with declining Navy and AF numbers and strength ever since 9/11. Our other rivals know this, the Taliban, N Korea, Iran, China, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, France - are free to proceed knowing the US lacks the credibility of being as effective a check as they once were.

downtownlad said...

We won't be safer until our troops out of the Middle East. That's what is antognizing them the most. Remove the antagonism and the terror subsides.

Of course - we do get a kick out of kicking their ass and annoying them. I know I do. But that will cause more terror. Is the tradeoff worth it? I guess that's for Americans to decide. I can go both ways - depending on my mood.

Sometimes, I'm like "let's get out of there and let them kill themselves." Othertimes I'm like "let's just bomb the hell out of them, because they are scum and they deserve it.".

The Drill SGT said...

I have not read the NIE and apparently neither has the NYT. They have read parts leaked to them by the CIA. Isn't it obvious on its face that these portions are going to be those that appeal most to both folks at the CIA who want to embarrass the administration and also the NYT?

a couple of points:

1. The NYT's apparently confuse correlation and causality. The fact that terrorist recruiting increased after 9/11 as did our invasion, doesn't necessarily mean that our invasion of Iraq caused the increase in recruiting.

2. The invasion of Iraq and the attempt to bring democracy to the ME is a large gamble. I would argue that the jury is still out. It may prove to be a mistake, but if it succeeds, it creates a dramatically improved environment.

3. In order to convince me that we made an error in going into Iraq, you have to propose what we should have done instead? Defend fortress America? Issue a warrant for OBL? that was done years before. And none of that crap about "same as Bush only competently."

JohnF said...

The question is not whether we are safer now; it is whether we would be safer than we are now by having done something different (e.g., not invading Iraq).

If you want to find out if the administration was "right" to have invaded Iraq, in terms of safety, you must ask how safe we would be if they hadn't invaded Iraq. The fact, if it is one, that we are less safe today than before Iraq is really irrelevant, and a distraction from the relevant inquiry.

LoafingOaf said...

1. Intelligence agencies don't impress me anymore. They're wrong more often than right.

2. Doesn't anyone recognize that when you fight terrorism and try and advance democracy in a screwed up region that breeds terrorism, that Islamic radicalism will increase for the short term and then, if we're successful, be defeated in the long run? The long run is what's most important, particularly with nulcear proliferation. Bush's policies won't be "proven" right or wrong in time for the November elections - sorry.

3. One thing that's clear is al Qaeda and its affiliates really don't want democray to succeed in the Middle East.

4. The number one gripe Bin Laden had with the USA pre-9/11 was our troops in Saudi Arabia. Keeping Saddam "in a box" creates Islamic radicalism too.

5. IMHO, we owed it to the people of Iraq to topple Saddam.

Harry Eagar said...

Safer, with nukes in Pakistan and North Korea? No, no way.

The other part of the report -- as reported -- is wrong. Islam has been making war against all the rest of the world whenever it felt powerful enough to do so -- that is, all the time except the years between about 1700 and about 1990, as regards western Europe -- so recruiting warriors against us was never its problem.

Among many things going on to form Islamic opinion and behavior, one is a version of the war mania that we have seen in our own time in, eg, Austria in the years before 1914 or Japan in the 1930s. In those cases, the aggressive state was, by any measure but a madman's, too weak to succeed in its task.

Proving it to them was very expensive. Until Islam gets another smackdown, as it got at Omdurman in 1898, we're less safe because Muslims are more deluded about Islam's military capability.

Israel's failure to go ahead to smackdown this year was very bad for Muslims, as it reinforced their delusion

Simon said...

Doyle, what is your basis for believing that - because that's the conclusion that fits best with your own views, of because the NYT (which is thoroughly dishonest in its implication that it has SEEN the report) says that the NIE says something, a claim which just happens to support the NYT's editorial stance? When and if you've read the NIE, you have some basis for commenting on what it says. Would you comment on a Supreme Court case without reading it? Why? It's not that you're biased - it's that you're full of it. I can't believe that you, of all people, are dumb enough to buy into this for no better reason than because the NYT hates Bush and you hate Bush too. You've distinguished yourself repeatedly as one of the smarter liberal voices here, but this iosn't helping your case.

SteveR said...
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SteveR said...

I'm shocked, shocked that the CIA and NYT came to this conclusion, in this way.

In other news, sources within the State Department have revealed that Sec. Rice has used governmnet funds.

As Shanna said we are safer because we are aware of the threat. At least some of us are.

LoafingOaf said...

Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower, was asked by Hugh Hewitt what he'd advise Bush. One of the things he tell Bush is that he should still be advacing democracy, even if it gets ugly. Which I agree with. The status quo and so;called "stability" in the Middle East could not be abided anymore, no matter how much the CIA wishes otherwise.

And secondly, I think that I believe in the democratization process. I don’t abandon that. But it’s going to be ugly, and it’s not going to be always very rewarding. I think Hamas in the future, we’ll see that again and again. But the thing about democracy that I genuinely believe is that it is an inherently moderating force. I think you can see that even right now with Hamas having to come to grips with being in power. They have to answer to the needs of the people. Turkey is a good example of a Islamist movement that has come into power and has had to adapt. So I say let them come to power through democratic processes, and it may not be pretty. But we can’t control everything. But if we do have people who are democratically elected, then we’ve got a better chance to have real partners.

http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/Transcript_Page.aspx?ContentGuid=ba70d3a3-0528-4007-b7db-724e431b3e65

LoafingOaf said...

Safer, with nukes in Pakistan and North Korea? No, no way.

Before Bush started waging war after 9/11, al Qaeda was on the brink of taking over Pakistan and Saddam was sending money to North Korea for missile systems.

Also, during Bush's first term, his administration helped back Pakistan and India down from nuclear war.

johnstodderinexile said...

This is brilliant! I had no idea the U.S. Intelligence Community had a "what-if" machine that can precisely measure how many Islamic fundamentalist terrorists there would be today if Saddam Hussein were still in power! I love American ingenuity!

Do I get to ask it a question, too?

Okay. Ahem. If Grady Little had taken Pedro Martinez out of the playoff game against the Yankees, would the Red Sox have won?

NSC said...

We weren't safe before - we were blind - purposefully so in my opinion - Clinton's denials notwithstanding. And as a result they were killing us with no consequence.

We might not be safer now - however that is measured - but at least we are hitting back, and that is a step in the right direction.

Question is, does anyone seriously think we will be safer if we stick our heads in the sand again? That is what the left wants us to do, make no mistake.

I, for one, would rather go down fighting.

Doyle said...

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

Would the NYT really run with this if there were a significant probability that when the report is published, these will look like unfair characterizations?

That seems to be the only reason to withold judgment on the specific question of what the NIE has to say about the effect of the Iraq War on the terrorist threat.

Someone pointed out that correlation doesn't prove causation. This is quite true, but it sounds like the NIE asserts that there is causation. That's what "fueling" implies.

Robin Goodfellow said...

We're in the middle of a war. Wars rarely make you safer while they are ongoing, it's after the war that makes the difference.

Johnny Nucleo said...

The fight is intensifying. The enemy sees that we are serious and has reacted accordingly. Is this not to be expected? Who thought this was going to be easy?

The fact is, we got hit, and then we hit back hard. When you hit back, it makes your enemy madder. So you must keep hitting, and hitting, and hitting until your enemy is dead.

Only then are you safer. While the fight is still going, you are arguably not safer. But if you just give up you will not be safer either. You will be dead.

Let me preempt a possible counter-argument from my friends on the left. You might say, "No one's talking about giving up, we're talking about fighting the war smarter."

You keep saying that, but no one on the planet has any idea what the hell you mean by that, because you refuse to say. The reason you refuse to say is that in fact you have no secret plan. You are as clueless as the rest of us when it comes to figuring out how to win this thing.

The difference is, at least we accept the unpleasant reality that we are in a fight, and there is no talking our way out of it. You still do not. I suspect the reason you do not is that you are in denial because the fact that this fight is for real and for all the marbles is too terrifying to accept.

At least we have an idea, a plan: Liberalize them. Maybe it's a stupid plan, maybe it will not work. But it's a plan. It's something. What's your plan?

Gahrie said...

Would the NYT really run with this if there were a significant probability that when the report is published, these will look like unfair characterizations?

You're joking right?

Of course they would. And then run the corrections 2 months later buried in the back pages. Like they usually do when slamming a conservative.

Doyle said...

Wars rarely make you safer while they are ongoing, it's after the war that makes the difference.

Fair enough, but we have been told repeatedly that we are safer today than we were on 9/11.

That argument basically relied on the absence of a similar attack since then.

But you logic fans will surely recognize that is just as likely to be in spite of the Iraq War and not because of it.

Plus, what did you think would happen to Islamic radicalism when we invade and stay in (I know people hate the word "occupy") a Muslim country?

Anyway it's true that you can just take the long view, but this would definitely undercut even more administration claims about the war.

Joe said...

Before George Bush we treated Islamic terrorism as a law enforcement issue. That was the wrong model, it was perceived as weak so the attacks escalated, culminating in 9-11. Bush has tried the military response, it is historically too early to make a final judgment as to the extent it has succeeded. I know we have not been hit since that day, I don't know of any other strategy that would have been more effective. I am certain that appeasement (or the perception of same by the enemy) would have failed.
"Would the NYT really run with this if there were a significant probability that when the report is published, these will look like unfair characterizations?"
Yes, without question, they do it all the time.

Gerry said...

I hope we act like we are less safe. I hope our intelligence agencies do as well.

After all, we learned the hard way what happens when we act like we are safe.

But what tells the tale to me is if we are attacked or not, and how successful those are or are not.

FWIW

AJ Lynch said...

FYI- Drudge just had a link to a White House claim that this morning's news stories did not reflect the whole opinion in the NIE report. So whoever commented here that the leak may have sprung a trap for the NYT- perhaps you were right.

Doyle said...

A trap for the NYT, you say?

So, the NIE concludes that the Iraq War is, miraculously, decreasing the intensity of Islamic fanaticism. But, rather than leak the good news, pro-Bush sources leaked the opposite information to the Times and the Washington Post... just to make them look biased and irresponsible?

It's so fiendishly clever!

Seven Machos said...

I believe that we are safer. Off the top of my head, I can name these terrorist attacks pre-9/11:

U.S.S Cole, Tanzania and another African-country embassy, the Marines in Lebanon, the Iranian hostages, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Oklahoma City (definitely a terrorist attack), Lockerbie.

Off the top of my head, these are the ones I can name since 9/11:

the guy in the D.C. area, the guy at LAX.

Also, something beats nothing every single time.

Doug said...

Liberals seem to want us to believe that al qaeda hated Saddam however, our invasion of their enemy inspired terrorism. Yet we invaded Al qaeda's home base in Afghanistan, overthrew their BFF in the form of the Taliban and continue to occupy solomn Muslim lands there with our Nato allies, and that doesn't piss off islamists?

We are led to believe that tossing out a far more secularist government and enemy to the Islamofascist cause, in Saddam, is a greater inspiration to the terrorists than the destruction of the Taliban who were their closest compatriots.

Freeman Hunt said...

Ann says that she's moderate, but really she's just a Democratic shill on the payroll of Kos & Co... Just kidding. I couldn't resist given the bizarro comments of the last week.

I won't know what to think of the report until I can actually look at the report. Or at least until another source reports on it. I don't trust the NYT to report political news accurately.

I do agree with The Drill Sgt that it looks like a possible correlation = causation fallacy. The mere fact that the word "fueling" is used doesn't mean that someone didn't make that leap. I think a more likely cause of increased radicalism is that 9/11 was pulled off. When your side scores a conspicuous "victory" over the other side, you're more likely to have people who want to join up with you.

In any case, we haven't been attacked, and our current policies are focused on the long, not short, view. Long term I think we're much safer than we were when we ignored the cesspool of oppression in the Middle East.

MadisonMan said...

seven, I suppose it depends on your definition of we, but attacks in Madrid, London, and Bali (? -- was that where the nightclub was bombed?) spring immediately to mind. I think there are a lot more terrorist attacks in Iraq, as well.

Seven Machos said...

Madison -- The Islamic jihadists do seem to be attacking in many other parts of the world. But those places aren't the United States.

Those places seem to have two things in common:

1. They'v allied, at least somewhat, with the United States in this War against Islamic Jihadists.

3. They are places that have done a piss-poor job of integrating large Muslim populations.

Clampett said...

ALthouse, for shame.

The point of the whole 'safty' line is to give laymen like me an alleged reason. You fancy lawyers call that a PRETEXT.

For...
For...
For...

Establishing a military presence in the middle east.

You know this,

so, that considered, your approach here is propagandistic... shame, shame on you.

I suggest that you rename you blog to 'pravda USA'.

jk.

We aren't safer, but there wasn't really anything to be safe from in terms of Islamic terrorism, giving the neocons the shining excuse that 'hey, they haven't attacked us since 9/11, so these measures seem to be working'.

Eh, I give you the benefit of the doubt. You asked a good question here.

altoids1306 said...

NYT, media bias aside, *possible* CIA/intellegence-community incompetence/bias aside, let's just assume the report is true. Let's assume that because we are in Iraq, and elsewhere, that we are stirring up more anger, and are therefore objectively less safe.

Even if it were true, we are still entirely justified in fighting terrorism. We are not responsible for the response to our actions, only our actions themselves. It seems obvious, but not to some, apparently. The wife who provokes her husband into shooting her is not guilty of her own death.

Do we sell our long-term security for short-term safety? You only need to look at history to see what happens to countries that do not vigorously defend themselves when challenged.

Seven Machos said...

As far as Iraq -- what's happening there is a low-level Civil War and continuous attacks against occupying forces. The low-level Civil War was to be expected for a number of reasons (that I don't really want to rehash right now, and that the Bush administration was miserably and negligently prepared for). The attacks against the army are a good thing. We definitely want the military engaging and being engaged with the enemy not, say, old ladies in Cleveland.

Simon said...

Doyle said...
"So, the NIE concludes that the Iraq War is, miraculously, decreasing the intensity of Islamic fanaticism. But, rather than leak the good news, pro-Bush sources leaked the opposite information to the Times and the Washington Post... just to make them look biased and irresponsible?"

Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach him to fish and he'll eat for life. Discredit the NYT...

Doyle said...

Negroponte's statement from this afternoon:

"What we have said, time and again, is that while there is much that remains to be done in the war on terror, we have achieved some notable successes against the global jihadist threat."

He added, "The conclusions of the intelligence community are designed to be comprehensive and viewing them through the narrow prism of a fraction of judgments distorts the broad framework they create."


Hmmm. Wrong prism? Distorting the broad framework?

Doesn't sound like a stinging refutation to me.

David said...

Maxine's comment, the first in the thread, answered the question about as well as it can be answered.

We are safer in that Al Qaeda has been broken up, its financing disrupted and its training camps closed. Other than AQ in Iraq, it is not operational, but is simply a rallying cry. Also, although this gets almost no attention, a lot of its worldwide affiliates have also been broken up. They probably can't mount a multi-year, sophisticated plan like 9/11 again.

We are less safe because we are engaged in the region militarily. Unlike others, I don't think that our pulling out of the region would make the least bit of difference in how much "they" hate us or their determination to strike at us. But having American troops in Iraq does give them a target to hand and the ex-Baathists give them some infrastructure. Mass attacks on civilians, another 9/11 being unlikely, are likely to be like the plots broken up in London or Miami. Much more haphazard, much less professional and much more likely to be infiltrated, but not without danger.

I don't believe that home-grown terrorism connected to international support organizations, as we saw in London and Madrid, is any more likely now than before the Iraq invasion.

Iraq might, every once in a while, cause a nut to get into his SUV and drive through a crowd. Nothing we can do about that.

But what I really wanted to say is that I certainly hope that cedarford dies young of a truly painful disease.

Sloanasaurus said...

Prior to 9-11 Iraq was ruled by totalitarian dictator who was raking in $30 billion a year to spend as he pleased. He wanted to build nuclear weapons and had tried to do so in the past. Today, he is dead, and no one has replaced him to reinstate the nuclear program.

Yes. We are safer.

J said...

"Would the NYT really run with this if there were a significant probability that when the report is published, these will look like unfair characterizations?"

That's the point of the criticism here. Nothing in a classified NIE, or more correctly nothing classified in an NIE, is going to be published in the foreseeable future, so they're pretty safe. From a political standpoint, maybe the Times really was played with a leak that can be refuted; more likely they live in a cocoon too thick for them to realize that keeping stuff like this in the news doesn't help the Dems.

Simon said...

"having American troops in Iraq does give them a target to hand and the ex-Baathists give them some infrastructure. Mass attacks on civilians, another 9/11[,] [are] unlikely."

Put another way, we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here. Right?

Daryl Herbert said...

When there's a successful terror attack, or even a failed attack, they get increased attention/notoriety/ability to recruit.

When a terror leader is arrested or killed, they get a martyr to avenge or a prisoner to get back by taking hostages. Either way, they also get increased publicity.

When Islam is insulted, they get to portray things as an end-times battle between Islam and kaffirs.

When Islam is praised, this feeds their sense of entitlement. Are Muslims really less likely to join al-Qaeda because George Bush said Islam was a religion of peace? That monkey? People don't even listen to him in his own country. People in America say he's wrong. Every kind of perversion goes on in America. Why should Muslims let George Bush tell them about Islam?

When we take action to surveil Muslims, at home and abroad, it creates suspicion and makes Muslims unhappy, pushing them towards terrorists. The ACLU/NYT/etc. act to reveal our secret programs in order to undermine their effectiveness, prevent us from being able to implement new surveillance programs, sabotage our relations with important allies, and give Muslims more reason to hate us.

When we fail to keep tabs on the terrorists, it's much easier for them to carry out attacks. Successful attacks yield much more benefit to the terrorists than whining about surveillance.

I could go on and on about other aspects to the terror war, and how everything we do benefits the terrorists (invade or don't invade? assassinate or don't assassinate? push for democracy or back dicators?) but instead, I'll sum it up:

It's a tar baby. The more we do to prevent terrorism, the more attention the terrorists get. And the less we do, they more they will succeed against us, securing yet more attention.

Things are going to continue to get worse. The only way to "win" against terrorists is to set up a competing system. They know this, which is why they are doing their damnedest to stop us from succeeding in Iraq. That's why we have to succeed in Iraq. We don't have a choice any more. We can't just pull out of Iraq and hope things calm down. We have to win in Iraq.

This isn't like fighting Communism. Communists were materialists who wanted more for themselves and a better life (with a healthy helping of envy/persecute the Kulaks, etc.).

Afghanistan is not important compared to Iraq. We can't set up the kind of competing system in Afghanistan. A country like that will always be tribal. Even in Europe and America, where there are lots of mountains, there is more tribalism/small government mentality. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing--but it isn't going to be the "Liberal Caliphate" we have to establish from Baghdad.

Cedarford said...

The Drill Sargent - In order to convince me that we made an error in going into Iraq, you have to propose what we should have done instead? Defend fortress America? Issue a warrant for OBL?

Instead of Iraq, we should have embarked on a major strategic communications and outreach effort to bring as many people to our side as possible, while beefing up the Air Force and Naval fleet Bush, Bush II, and Clinton have sheparded into major decline.

We should have funded a new wave of teaching, as we did after Sputnik, to encourage not only critical science areas where US dominance is challenged or over with - but also training hundreds of thousands of Americans in critical languages like Arabic, Urdu, Chinese, Indonesian, Farsi along with cultural immersion...and also enlist native language speakers in translation, interface, and intelligence roles.

We should have avoided telling the American people that only volunteer soldiers & families would be required to make any sacrifice whatsoever...and avoided pinning down the bulk of our troops.

We should have had a President mandating a energy policy that used both mandatory conservation measures and oil substitutes to get oil prices low so terorists and Madrassahs didn't get surplus billions.

And ended the Open Borders.

And read the riot act to Bush's Saudi Friends to end the efforts to spread the cancerous poison of Wahabbism and Salafism in US and overseas prisons, mosques, and schools.

And looked at other emerging threats like China's modern military and Latin America and Russia going anti-West after being shat upon by crooked capitalists and democracy activists intruding into their local spheres.

And of course, worked to finish the Palestinian question no matter what the Arabs and powerful Jews wanted - with final borders and the Prince Abdullah Plan version of the Roadmap implimented whether or not the Pals or the Zionist "accepted" it.
*********************
Loafing oaf - Doesn't anyone recognize that when you fight terrorism and try and advance democracy in a screwed up region that breeds terrorism, that Islamic radicalism will increase for the short term and then, if we're successful, be defeated in the long run? The long run is what's most important, particularly with nulcear proliferation.

From our experience with Iran, democracy brings in radicalism and a popular desire to achieve nuclear parity...and the "long run" is of little use if the "short run" lasts 27 years and counting in the case of dangerous, democratic Iran..

if "democracy" means replacement of stable regimes in Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, nuclear armed Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia with radical Islamists in the short run of 25-50 years duration, I am reminded of John Maynard Keynes impatience with "in the long run" thinkers. "What we have in the present and near future is infitely more important in economics than the long run. In the long run, we are all dead."

Loafingoaf - The number one gripe Bin Laden had with the USA pre-9/11 was our troops in Saudi Arabia. Keeping Saddam "in a box" creates Islamic radicalism too.

By now we are smart enough to know that there is no CEO of Islamic Jihad, plus, bin Laden had unique grudges not shared by 99% of other terrorist wannabes.

Most radical Islamists - outside Iran, are enormously grateful to KSA's rulers for funding and spreading radicalism. In polls and questioning of captured terrorists - the main causes of their decision to act violently are (1)Zionism.; (2)American favortism towards Israel; (3)The purient, vile culture of infidels; (4) Western prescence in and contamination of the Ummah; ancient grievances with the infidel enemy.

The actions of the Saudi Royal family are on almost no terrorist's list - much as Israel's sympathizers would have us believe that since Binnie didn't list it as his beef until post 9/11 - that Israel is not Problem #1 in the eyes of 99% of wannabe terrorists.

Fenrisulven said...

I don't bother with anything leaked to NYTs by CIA anymore. Its carp. You would think by now [what, is this the 6th time?] that people would figure out they are being fed with a shovel. Bets that we'll see more of these CIA->NYT leaks as the election approaches, all from anonymous sources, and all discrediting the Bush policy.

Show me the actual report and we'll talk about the intelligence estimate.

Now, are we safer? Yes, but only in the sense that we are awake and alert now.

Have our actions in Iraq created more terrorists? Yes. But that is not a proof against liberating Iraq. That type of logic is from the same crowd who think because Islam riots when you call them out, appeasing them will make them back off.

Cedarford said...

daryl herbert - Things are going to continue to get worse. The only way to "win" against terrorists is to set up a competing system. They know this, which is why they are doing their damnedest to stop us from succeeding in Iraq. That's why we have to succeed in Iraq. We don't have a choice any more. We can't just pull out of Iraq and hope things calm down. We have to win in Iraq.

You have fallen into a logic trap of believing "we can't" do anything other than impose a culture and structure of government that the people reject. The fallacy of "we must win" at any cost - is met with outrage of even the most ardent of Bush supporters at the notion we will need a Draft and an end to the tax cuts for the wealthy if we try "nation-transforming" yet another Muslim nation and last I looked, we have some 40 Muslim nations out there...

Now, perhaps it is possible with another 20,000 America casualties and another 500 billion that could be spent far better on other domestic or counter-terror activities we may succeed in Iraq despite 80% of the population now saying it's OK to kill Americans or their collaborators and all sides predict a civil war where either Iraqis die in droves or Americas die by being in the middle and trying to "save" our killers from killing one another.

Alternatives?

1. See if coexistence with Muslims and infidels is even possible these days. If not, separate and say we will come in only if invited, but if attacked we will come in guns blazing and be a lot less careful about civilian casualties.

2. Leave and let them kill one another to their hearts content. It worked in the Iran-Iraq war. It at least would end our paralyzed military..unable to act or deter anywhere else while we are strategically mired in Iraq.

3. Perhaps it is time to take time out and better understand the needs and desires of Muslims before we have Green Zoners telling them that they must have the Flat Tax System Grover Norquist wants and adapt State of Massachusetts trafiic laws nationwide. Remember, we are still so misinformed we can't even identify who the terrorists are, the exact ideology we are fighting - and name them. (Al Qaeda is one of 60 groups plus hundreds of cells of homespun JIhadis).

AJ Lynch said...

Doyle:
Your a dense SOB. Let's say you want to catch a rat- would you put a brick out for bait? Well, maybe you would but most people would use cheese or food a rat would eat.

It is the same if you wanted to see who was feeding the info to the NYT. To get the NYT to take the bait, it would have to be something they would eagerly print such as any top-secret bad news about Bush et al. So, the Bushies perhaps fed them bad news about Iraq to try to see who is feeding them the bait.

Got it numbskull?

Dave Ebersole said...

It's all just an exercise in futility anyways. We'll never know if we are safer or not, whether the war(s) stalled, discovered, and/or thwarted plans or not, and whether the war(s) stirred up violence and hate that would not otherwise have been there.

I think the government could have made different choices that might have been better and thus safer, but I can't know that.

My guess is that the NIE was probably designed to look deeply at the "Are We Safer?" question and more deeply to find the answers tending towards no.

I don't think I would want the Intelligence and Law Enforcement Communities to get caught up in thinking about whether or not we are safer.

Tim said...

"We should have funded a new wave of teaching, as we did after Sputnik, to encourage not only critical science areas where US dominance is challenged or over with - but also training hundreds of thousands of Americans in critical languages like Arabic, Urdu, Chinese, Indonesian, Farsi along with cultural immersion...and also enlist native language speakers in translation, interface, and intelligence roles."

There you have it. Probably the clearest explanation from the Left as to why they keep losing elections.

The only surprise is that they are surprised they keep losing.

Seven Machos said...

Cedarford -- I read that article in The Atlantic as well. Had you made the arguments you made when they were relevant, you would have had some good points.

However, your arguments are very outdated; you sound like Rip Van Winkle. Whatever you want to say about the horrific planning that went into the invasion -- and it was horrific -- and whatever you want to say about the negligent initial decisionmaking, we have adjusted on the fly very well in terms of goals and tactics.

Tim said...

More to the point, in our history of warfare, especially the wars we won, our enemies always got larger (i.e., more numerous) before they got smaller (i.e., less numerous). Judging whether we are safer or not based upon the metric of known or probable jihadis is eminently suitable for the morons at the NY Times (with all due apologies to morons), but little use to anyone seriously analyzing the war.

Also, for those who think militant Islamic fascism is our fault, or that George Bush is a greater enemy than militant Islamic fascism, or that all that separates America from a lifetime theocratic dictatorship under George Bush is Hugo Chavez, Air America, Cindy Sheehan and the human tent-wearers of CodePink, than yeah, absolutely, taking the fight to our enemies is absolutely making us less safe. For sure.

J. Peden said...

Are we "safer" than pre-9/11, which ended with 9/11, and so wasn't very safe?

It's hard to beat a perfect record by an event which hasn't happened yet, no matter how much you disasterize and fear-monger.

It's hard to beat perfection especially when attempts to reproduce 9/11 have been thwarted. A strategy has demonstrably worked.

Were any attacks at all on the United States by terrorists prior to 9/11 thwarted?

So the score is perfect to not perfect.

The score is thwarted to not thwarted.

We, therefore, have been "safer".

So the next question is, will we be as safe as we have been post 9/11 from this moment on.

As of this moment, can anyone beat this current record, or prove that they can? How would they prove it?

Does it make any sense to change a strategy which has produced perfection?

Too Many Jims said...

We were "perfect" from the first world trade center bombing until the second. That was about 8 years. So we have 3 more years until we reach that level of "perfection".

Seven Machos said...

Jim C. -- You are wrong, shrill, uninformed, and completely full of shit.

1996. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia: truck bomb exploded outside Khobar Towers military complex, killing 19 American servicemen and injuring hundreds of others. 13 Saudis and a Lebanese, all alleged members of Islamic militant group Hezbollah, were indicted on charges relating to the attack in June 2001.

1998. Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: truck bombs exploded almost simultaneously near 2 U.S. embassies, killing 224 (213 in Kenya and 11 in Tanzania) and injuring about 4,500.

2000. Aden, Yemen: U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole heavily damaged when a small boat loaded with explosives blew up alongside it. 17 sailors killed.

Too Many Jims said...

Seven:

"Jim C. -- You are wrong, shrill, uninformed, and completely full of shit."

This is such a compelling argument that it is tough to come up with a retort so I will leave it at: "Do you still french-kiss your mom with that mouth?"

I am well aware of the events that you recount. So between the first World Trade center and the second, 36 service personnel abroad were killed at the hands of terrorists. Since 9/11 how many serveice men and women have died at the hands of terrorists? And we have been "perfect" since 9/11?

There is an argument that some people make that goes: "Hey we all thought after 9/11 there would be more attacks like 9/11. There haven't been more attacks. Therefore we must be doing a good job on fighting terrorism." My only point is that by that standard we did a great job between the two WTC attacks. Like President Bush said, we have to be right all the time (paraphrasing). Personally, I think that whoever in this thread said "I hope we don't think we are safer" had it right.

Seven Machos said...

Jim C. -- Several hundred people were killed in the attacks between 1993 and 2001.

Part of the job of a soldier is often to die. That's an acknowledged risk you take when you join.

Are you really going to argue that post-9/11 military deaths, while awful, have not been in the service of larger goals -- defeating jihadists, encircling Iran, making the financing of terror more difficult, leaning on Syria, getting the military out of the Arabian peninsula, ensuring affordable energy, and fighting enemies in places besides the United States? Are you really going to argue that?

Revenant said...

Does anyone have a link to the actual document in question? I can't say that I trust the Times to accurately describe what it says.

DaMav said...

First, I'm not impressed that the NY Times is presenting a fair or accurate summary of the intelligence document. Without seeing the whole thing, it is virtually meaningless.

Second, the assertion that life has gotten more dangerous when we fought back is perhaps true but hardly helpful. One might as well observe that there were more casualties, engagements, and enemy troops after Pearl Harbor when we decided to fight back against the attack. No doubt pulling out of Hawaii would have bought many years with far fewer casualties. So what? Does anyone wish we had done that?

Third, the cancer was spreading long before we invaded Iraq. No doubt the invasion energized the Jihadi but it's not like they were sitting peacefully on the sidelines for the past three decades, just waiting for America to enter Baghdad. All it takes to recruit more Jihadi is... well, how about some cartoons of Mohammed, or the Pope quoting an ancient text critical of Islam. Once again, if we surrender and submit, we will have peace. Is that what people want?

It should be clear that we are fighting a multinational hostile ideology. The idea that it can be neatly compartmentalized into Afghanistan, for example, is not only naive, but counterproductive. It is legalistic, tactical thinking, employing half measures which have not worked since all this began in Iran several decades ago.

It is perhaps popular to tell people what they want to hear -- that if we only would concede a few countries everything will be ok. But in that direction lies the long term demise of our country, our culture, and our way of life. This foolish leak of more national security information by the New York Times is just another partisan cheap shot, worthy of an investigation the leak but hardly worthy of discussion of the issues it raises.

J. Peden said...

"We were "perfect" from the first world trade center bombing until the second. That was about 8 years. So we have 3 more years until we reach that level of 'perfection'". Jim C

Jim, 8 years is a standard of perfection only if you ignore the 9/11, 2001, event as an immediate start of a new and significantly different period - a new situation defined by that event. I thought nearly everyone saw it that way.

Otherwise, why not go back over 200 years prior to WTC 1 and say the policy from WTC 1 to WTC 2 was not only not perfect, it was an abject failure in terms of a somewhat arbitrary definition of track records? I wouldn't go back that far to evaluate the post WTC 1 strategy. I'd just say it didn't work, and we know it.

We changed strategies post 9/11, unlike post WTC 1. And we have certainly been "safer" since 9/11, 2001, compared to that event. I stated that this safety was only contemporaneous. So that we still have to decide what to do next from this moment.

But even according to your concept of perfection, we are still going to have to go at least 3 years with the same strategy in place, changed from the obviously flawed previous one which led to 9/11, to even be able to test your concept of perfection.

You are exactly right: we must continue to test our hypotheses, our strategies. But are you ready to?

Yet even according your standards, we've got 5 years of perfection risk out of the way already, without any WTC's whatsoever, compared to the two already on the record of the previous strategy.

And we have thwarted attempts already within even these 5 years, none of the same kind of preventions which have been similarly attributable to the previous strategy, since it didn't thwart anything, over an even longer period of 8 years testing.

Not to mention the Cole attack of 10/2000. Nothing similar has occurred for nearly 5 years, compared to the approx. one year between it and 9/11/2001.

Likewise, since 9/11, 2001, many other Countries have been attacked by 9/11-like insults, and we have not been similarly attacked in over 5 years.

Are you willing to abandon the current strategy merely because it has not yet been "perfect" according to your standards. Or are you willing to test your own definition and hypothesis?

Is not the record of the new strategy perfect enough for you to think it wise that it should be
continued? What have you in mind otherwise which would make the record more perfect?

Finn Kristiansen said...

Sometimes I wonder if I would have had a better life now if my SAT score in the eighties had been 1590, instead of the mediocre 1090 that it was. Would I be working for Google, Goldman Sachs or Harvard now? Would I be a lawyer at Skadden, Arps, or a hip UofW constitutional law professor, sharing an office with Ann, who would scold me about my black turtlenecks being too sexy and distracting for the female students? Would I be on the Forbes 400, just after the Waltons, but before Dell?

The problem with the "safer" question is that we are not God, and cannot determine the value of alternate paths or realities. As someone in an above post pointed out, the attack that we had to make (against Afghanistan) was probably the attack that would more likely offend the sensibilities of Islamic radicals (in comparison with the secular Iraqi regime).

Had we not invaded Iraq, would Al Queda not have found a home there with such a level of comfort that they could have organized and planned more attacks in an unrestrained, unhurried manner?

Who knows. It would seem to me that the consistent fixed variable is that some Islamic radicals always attack.

I would argue too, that if we were to disgengage from the Middle East, and leave them to their own devices, they would turn their attention toward "out of town" activities, fostering revolt among Islamic populations living in the West.

Gahrie said...

Does anyone have a link to the actual document in question? I can't say that I trust the Times to accurately describe what it says.

Uhhmm...no.

You see, the document is classified......it's supposed to be a secret.

The NYT is writing about a secret document that was leaked to it.

Too Many Jims said...

Seven machos said . . . "Are you really going to argue that post-9/11 military deaths, while awful, have not been in the service of larger goals?"

Absolutely not!

Are you really going to argue that pre 9/11 military deaths, while awful, have not been in the service of larger goals?

The notion that there hasn't been another attack like the Cole (and to a lesser extent -- Khobar Towers) strikes me as odd. In the Cole attack a U.S. military vehicle was attacked by terrorists and U.S. service personnel died. It seems to me that terrorists are attacking U.S. military vehicles and personnel on a regular basis these days even if we limit only to IEDs and suicide attacks.

Al Maviva said...

Instead of Iraq, we should have embarked on a major strategic communications and outreach effort to bring as many people to our side as possible, while beefing up the Air Force and Naval fleet Bush, Bush II, and Clinton have sheparded into major decline.

Good to know the proponents of Douhet are still alive and kicking...

Fenrisulven said...

The NYT is writing about a secret document that was leaked to it.

To be more precise, the NYTs is writing about portions of a document, leaked to it by CIA employees who believe their job is not to gather & analyze intelligence, but to sabatoge policies they disgaree with. And we wonder why our intel is so horrible.

Fenrisulven said...

Judging whether we are safer or not based upon the metric of known or probable jihadis is eminently suitable for the morons at the NY Times (with all due apologies to morons), but little use to anyone seriously analyzing the war.

NYTs Headline: Surge in gang violence fault of police efforts to arrest gang leaders.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I'm disappointed that no one seems to have picked up on the point Doug and I raised about Afghanistan. Arguments like the one claimed to be in the NIE assume that we could have maintained Islamic radicalism at its (apparently acceptable) 9/11 level simply by not attacking Iraq. But that's not really true, is it? What we would have had to do is not attack Iraq and never do anything else to annoy potentially radical Muslims either. Does this sound like a realistic goal to anyone in light of the Koran-flushing hoax and the strange episode of the Danish cartoons?

Incidentally, how is it that this particular reference to the terrorist threat doesn't count as fear-mongering?

Eugene said...

No war has ever made the warring parties "safer" while the war was being waged. By that logic, Lincoln should have called it "even" after Gettysburg in 1863 (sparing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Union and Confederate troops), and Roosevelt should have "brought the troops home" after the Battle Midway in 1942 (which ended any possible threat to the U.S. mainland by the Japanese navy), sparing hundreds of thousands of American casualties and millions of Japanese military and civilian lives. This is not to argue that dragging out every war to the bloody end justifies the means--it's hard to say now what was actually "won" or "lost" between 1914 and 1918 by either side, and we'd probably all be better off if we'd have stayed out when the French bugged out of Vietnam. But I don't believe the current conflict falls into that category.

noah said...

I remember a Mark Steyn article from a while back pointing out that "islamic radicalism" is a relatively new phenomenon and seems to afflict muslim populations worldwide.

Many point to the coarsening of "Western" culture as a cause of this radicalization. The profile of the typical jihadist seems to line up with this "cause" than any other explanation. Devout muslims immersed in their own tribal cultures do not seem to pose the risk to us. It is rather those largely educated muslims exposed to a toxic dose of the crap that many even liberal parents deplore is what pushes them over the edge.

This suggests war without end, no matter the tactics,because,simplisticly,the ACLU will not allow us to eradicate porn and promiscuity.

RogerA said...

Does anyone not think that the copperheads in the CIA released their version to cover their sorry asses? That the papers that covered this latest treasonous leak covered all sides of what was in the NIE? Does anyone think that an NIE document has any validity anyway? it represents a negotiated consensus among intelligence pukes and comes no where near being "the truth." If anyone thinks otherwise, be waiting in your pumpkin patch next month for the great pumpkin. What a crock.

Fenrisulven said...

via Poweline:

"By the way, note that the report was completed in April. So the Democrats held their leak until it could be of service in the election campaign."

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/015361.php

J. Peden said...

"... [NIE] represents a negotiated consensus among intelligence pukes and comes no where near being "the truth." If anyone thinks otherwise, be waiting in your pumpkin patch next month for the great pumpkin." Roger A

Just as long a there are enough pumpkins waiting with me, I'm happy - or Parrots, or Ants. They know "the way" to higher truth.

Btw,did that Bopp Comet thing ever work? Any feedback from Elvis or the Pleroma?

paul a'barge said...

1. Does the Iraq war increase terrorism?
Look, it's a war. Surely, during a war, war-like events are to be expected. If not expected, whose brain-fart is at fault?

2. Are we safer now than on 9/11.
What is this, a tautology? Look at the track record. Of course, we're more safe. Are we completely invulnerable? Whose brain-fart would conjure up such idiocy?

3. If we experience a terror-event, does that make the DHIMMIcRATs right and GWB wrong? Nope. And, you can make a very cogent point that the DHIMMIcRATs have consistently, without let up, functioned as "on the other side", since 9/11. I believe the next terror event will be at least in part directly blameworthy on the DHIMMIcRATs.

knoxgirl said...

Sometimes, I'm like "let's get out of there and let them kill themselves." Othertimes I'm like "let's just bomb the hell out of them, because they are scum and they deserve it."

This is the first and only comment I can remember coming from anyone who is against Bush and the war in Iraq who has actually expressed genuine, believable, disgust for the Islamo-fascists. DTL, I disagree with you a lot, but you get a lot of points for me on this one.

Revenant said...

You see, the document is classified......it's supposed to be a secret. The NYT is writing about a secret document that was leaked to it.

Ah, I'd missed that.

Not worth paying any attention to, then.

The Exalted said...

we're still at war in iraq?

with who?

Seven Machos said...

We are at war in Iraq and all over the world with the people we are at war with. The fact that there is no good name for the people we are at war with is a testament to (1) disgusting and all-enveloping political correctness, (2) their inability to organize, and (3) our own superiority (they can't get too organized in any one place for fear of bombing and death).

Don't confuse the problem with naming the thing with the thing itself. It is a mark of stupidity and surface-thinking to be overly involved in semantics and categorizing.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Oh, please! Do I have to face it now? Couldn't we have waterboarding class? OK; I don't have the time they do to read the AP.