According to the New York Times, the highly classified
estimate, a consensus view of the 16 spy agencies of the U.S.
intelligence community, finds that the U.S. invasion of a Muslim land
has motivated the radical Islamic jihadist movement to metastasize and
spread around the world.
Yet, Negroponte, the President’s political appointee who is in
charge, nominally at least, of the 16 agencies, came up with the usual
twisted Bush administration phraseology to undercut his own estimate.
Negroponte, in what can only be termed Washington gobbledygook, said
of the estimate, “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.”
That fraction of judgments appears to be 100 percent of the 16
intelligence agencies, because the National Intelligence Estimate
represents the consensus view of that community
If instead Negroponte means that leaks of the report by intelligence
officials misrepresent the actual classified report, such distortion is
unlikely, because the New York Times interviewed more than a
dozen officials from various government agencies and outside experts, a
sampling of both supporters and critics of the Bush administration.
In reality, Negroponte, without much of a defense for the colossally
horrendous ill–effects of the Iraq invasion, is attempting the age–old
Washington trick of throwing out arguments, no matter how lame or
twisted, to muddy the waters when really bad news has hit the media.
A good intelligence professional would stand by and defend the best
judgment of his trained intelligence analysts and himself, but alas,
Negroponte is also one of the President’s political appointees. So by
clouding the matter, he is attempting to lessen the erosion of public
confidence on the one issue on which Republicans and the President
outpoll the Democrats: effectiveness in fighting the war on terror.
Unfortunately, for the Republicans, the intelligence estimate ties
together the Democrats’ favorite issue, Iraq, with the war on terror, in
a way that’s unfavorable for the GOP.
Although the intelligence estimate is nonpolitical, those in the
intelligence community who leaked were not behaving as such. The
estimate was completed last April, but was leaked, strategically, just
before an important mid–term election that will decide who’s in charge
of the House of Representatives, and maybe even the Senate.
Most of the U.S. intelligence community has an intense distaste for
the Bush administration—arising from pressure on spy agencies by Vice
President Dick Cheney and other administration officials before the war,
to make the Iraqi threat “larger than life,” and from the
administration’s leaking of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Also, when deciding whether to invade Iraq, the administration
refused to pay attention to an analysis from intelligence agencies,
which concluded that even if Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass
destruction, he was unlikely to use them or give them to terrorists,
unless the United States were to back him into a corner by threatening
the existence of his regime.
Finally, the administration did not heed the intelligence community
warning made in January 2003, before the war, that a U.S. invasion could
cause internal strife in Iraq for a long time. Now the administration is
learning that paybacks from spy agencies are hell, especially during an
important election year.
Given Bush’s Iraq invasion and his inflammatory rhetoric in the war
on terror designed for domestic voters, using words such as “crusade”
and “the struggle for civilization”—when combined with the Pope’s veiled
attack on Islam—it’s no wonder the U.S. intelligence community has
confirmed that the wildfire of radical Islamic terrorism is being
It’s a shame that our governmental and religious leaders cannot
behave more responsibly and make the world a safer place, instead of
endangering us all by generating more hatred.
Ivan Eland is a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute,
Director of the Institute’s
Center on Peace &
Liberty, and author of the books
The Empire Has No Clothes, and
Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy.