27 September 2006

That National Intelligence Estimate

The DNI has released the Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States" dated April 2006. Read the whole thing yourself (it's a quick read).

The NIE was released nearly half-a-year ago. That was immediately noticeable by references to al-Zarqawi.

The loss of key leaders, particularly Usama Bin Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and al-Zarqawi, in rapid succession, probably would cause the group to fracture into smaller groups. Although like-minded individuals would endeavor to carry on the mission, the loss of these key leaders would exacerbate strains and disagreements. We assess that the resulting splinter groups would, at least for a time, pose a less serious threat to US interests than does al-Qa'ida.

Should al-Zarqawi continue to evade capture and scale back attacks against Muslims, we assess he could broaden his popular appeal and present a global threat.

Since al-Zarqawi is dead, we have at least reduced his global threat. His absence has also appeared to have splintered al-Qaida in Iraq to some extent, both by the lack of a clear and charismatic leader, and also by intelligence resources found on scene that helped the Iraqis and coalition forces to further dismantle his terror organization.

The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

The AP has published the first sentence of that excerpt repeatedly, but I don't think that I've seen the second in any of the AP stories. We need to make the terrorists in Iraq feel like failures at the very least. Reporting coalition successes, terrorist failures, coalition rebuilding efforts, and any destruction detrimental to Muslims at the hands of terrorists would all work toward this goal. It could even generate greater support for the war here in the U.S. The media could help with this, but they have been quite absent in assisting the war effort so far.

If we don't succeed, or at least if the terrorists don't fail, then the result will only be greater confidence on the part of the terrorists to move forward against opponents of the caliphate and the West. Our failure and/or their success will also cultivate supporters for the terrorists and be an excellent propaganda and recruiting resource for our enemies.

We judge that groups of all stripes will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, propagandize, recruit, train, and obtain logistical and financial support.

The internet will become a greater tool for terrorists and other radical groups. We need our intelligence agencies to have the ability to monitor those threats on the internet and through other forms of communication. Much of the terror command structure has been disrupted and many of the terrorists who are out there are decentralized and diffused, according to the April NIE. The terrorists may blend in too much to be noticed initially, but they tend to expose themselves when they get closer to an attack with their attempts to acquire resources. Surveillance is a must.

I don't see the doom-and-gloom in the report that Emanuel, Harman, Kennedy, Kerry, Pelosi, Reid, and others are seeing. Is it all puppy dogs and iced cream? No, but it's not all snakes and castor oil either. The point of the NIE is simply to give a summary of information from our intelligence agencies to provide broad guidance to policy makers.

And keep this buried bit from AP in mind:

But they [NIEs] can be wrong. A 2002 assessment, for example, concluded that Iraq had continued its development of weapons of mass destruction, held arsenals of chemical and biological weapons and "probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade." None of those assertions turned out to be true.

That is part of what President Bush's opposition points to when claiming that he lied to get us into Iraq. If points in this NIE that detractors of the war are referencing turn out to be wrong, will that be justification to say that they lied and endangered national security for their own political gain?


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