In the Washington Post, Robert Kagen writes:
It’s too bad we won’t get to see the full National Intelligence Estimate on “Trends in Global Terrorism” selectively leaked to The Post and the New York Times last week. The Times headline read “Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat.” But there were no quotations from the NIE itself, so all we have are journalists’ characterizations of anonymous comments by government officials, whose motives and reliability we can’t judge, about intelligence assessments whose logic and argument, as well as factual basis, we have no way of knowing or gauging. Based on the press coverage alone, the NIE’s judgment seems both impressionistic and imprecise. On such an important topic, it would be nice to have answers to a few questions.
For instance, what specifically does it mean to say that the Iraq war has worsened the “terrorism threat”? Presumably, the NIE’s authors would admit that this is speculation rather than a statement of fact, since the facts suggest otherwise. Before the Iraq war, the United States suffered a series of terrorist attacks: the bombing and destruction of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998, the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since the Iraq war started, there have not been any successful terrorist attacks against the United States. That doesn’t mean the threat has diminished because of the Iraq war, but it does place the burden of proof on those who argue that it has increased.
Ed Morrissey concurs, writing, “Obviously, the Times has not played this straight. They have taken selected quotes from the NIE to build a political case against the war”:
The only solution to the problem is to declassify the NIE after redacting information about sources and methodology. We need to know the full context of all these remarks in order to know and understand the real conclusions of the intelligence community, not just a handful of disgruntled bureaucrats with Bill Keller on their speed-dial. Let’s see the entire report and then debate its contents. Democrats and Republicans should both call for that kind of openness.
President Bush did, ordering the NIE released. John Hinderaker notes:
Earlier this morning, Democrats tried to force the House of Representatives into a secret session to talk about the NIE report. This grandstanding would have generated more leaks and more headlines, but it was voted down. Now, with the report itself being declassified, the Democrats won’t be able to pull this kind of stunt.
Click here to read it.