September 27, 2006

THE NIE HAS BEEN DECLASSIFIED: Go here for the “Key Judgments.”

Bill Frist comments here. And John Podhoretz has a question for the NYT editors now that we know what the NIE actually says.

It’s late but I’ll add one more thought: While we should fire the leakers on general principles, we should probably also fire whoever wrote this — for producing a meaningless document full of empty bureaucratic twaddle. If the jihadists win, they’ll have more prestige! And they will probably use the internets! Do tell. Jesus Christ, if this is the quality of intelligence we’re getting, no wonder we haven’t won yet.

UPDATE: Here’s a roundup of reactions.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Carl Bridges emails:

You’re on target in your scorn for the NIE assessment as released in nonclassified form. It sure contains a lot of “coulds,” “likelies,” and “mights.” As for what the US government is supposed to do, it reminds me of those sportcasters who, whenever someone misses a pass, says, “You’ve got to catch those.” Uh, yeah.

Yes, it doesn’t inspire confidence.

MORE: Reader Dale Harkey suspects a Rovian plot, given that the full document actually says that we’re doing pretty well:

The set-up is oh so beautiful. Rove (it has to be Rove, right?) has the worst-case-scenario portions of a generally favorable NIE leaked to a gullible and traitorous media salaciously eager to run with it. The left-wing nuts explode in glee and establish their bonafides with all manner of stupid utterances. And since it is easily observed to be a politically motivated leak, (here comes the left hook the appeasers have leaned into because they can’t see it coming) what more justification can there be than to de-classify the original so the whole picture is available (and oh by the way, get the good stuff out there before the elections.) They sure couldn’t just hand the media a copy of the NIE and say, “hey, check this out, it says we’re doing okay,” could they? A dirty trick inside a dirty trick that turns the passion of the Bush-haters onto itself.

Is Karl Rove really that smart?

MORE STILL: Maybe so, as John Wixted notes that — the post-leak critics having built up the NIE into a document of vast importance and implicit reliability — they have to cope with this angle:

On the plus side for President Bush, it says that if United States military forces withdrew anytime soon from Iraq, then al Qaida would use that perceived victory to recruit new members. That’s bad news for any congressional Democrats who advocate removing troops in the near term.

He notes that this is sinking in (the quote above is actually from Tim Noah) and observes: “In other words, that vague little 3-page snippet from the NIE completely undermines the only substantive suggestion that Democrats have brought to the table with regard to Iraq (namely, a timetable for withdrawal).”

And no, I don’t really think that Karl Rove is smart enough to have set this up. But, really, with the opposition he faces, he doesn’t have to be.