NIE Report - Trends in Global Terrorism
The news and blogsphere are a flutter with the latest 'leak' of a classified intelligence document. Not suprisingly, the portions leaked are negative to President Bush, and very close to an election. The 'leak' apparently shows that Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat. Yet, very little in the NYT article is quoting from the text, but instead seems to be statements from anonymous officials. That hasn't stopped the NYT, Washinton Post and every leftist blogger from crowing about it.
But what does the document really say? We don't know...it is still classified. It was completed in April (but leaked now for the coming election), and it is doubtful many people have read what it says. Should we trust the statements of anonymous sources? Especially regarding this timing?
Powerline Blog has a good summary of the issues.
That's the headline story on the front page of the Washington Post this morning. I have no idea whether the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) upon which the story relies actually says this, but Karen DeYoung's report gives one little confidence (a) that she is reporting fully and accurately on the NIE and (b) that our "spy agencies" have any sound basis for such a conclusion.And continues later
De Young's story conflates a number of different alleged phenomena: (1) terrorism is becoming more decentralized, (2) successful recruting of terrorists is on the rise, (3) terrorists are using the Iraq war as the centerpiece of their recruiting campaigns, (4) the sitation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position with respect to fighting terrorism. De Young's confusion (or the confusion she induces in the reader) reaches its climax when she proclaims that the "conclusions and tone" of the NIE "have been reflected in a number of public statements by senior intelligence officials this year." De Young cites a statement by John Negroponte that "[m]y colleagues and I sill view the global jihadist terrorist movement, which emerged from the Afghan-Soviet conflict in the 1980s but is today inspired and led by al Qaeda, as the preeiminent threat to our citizens, homeland interests and friends." This statement may have some very slight connection to phenomena (1) and (2) cited above, but they do not "reflect" phenomena (3) and (4) at all.
JOHN adds: This is the latest cheap shot in the CIA's war against the Bush administration. As I've said before, one of the inherent vices of leaks of classified information is the selectivity of those leaks. When anti-Bush intelligence officials want to damage the President with a leak to the Washington Post, they relate certain features of, in this case, the National Intelligence Estimate, that they think will have the intended effect. But we don't get to see the whole report; just the reporter's spin on the spin she was given by the embedded Democrats in the agencies. We have no way of knowing, based on this kind of news story, what the report actually says, or how sound its reasoning is....Yep. Anonymous sources 'leaking' damning information just before an election. Real convincing stuff. This story has one up on Dan Rather. There is no way to verify or debunk it.
UPDATE: Sure enough, the White House says that the stories in the Post and the New York Times are "not representative of the complete document." That's very likely true, but we can't know without reading the whole report. And in all likelihood, the reporters who passed on the leakers' spin don't know either.