Who you callin' naive, bub?
by Jerry Gilio
September 28, 2006

The President of Fantasyland, a.k.a. George W. Bush, made some interesting comments at a recent press conference in response to the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States".

"Some people have guessed what's in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree. I think it's naive. I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people who want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe."

First of all, nobody "guessed" anything. The people drawing the conclusions were writing the NIE, not reading it. Later, the contents of the report were leaked. Finally, a declassified version of the "Key Judgments" has been released. You can read it yourself.

We need to be clear about who Bush is calling naive and mistaken. It isn't a bunch of bleeding heart liberals or power hungry Democrats. That's not who wrote this report. So who did write this document that's claiming the war in Iraq is making us less safe?

NIEs are prepared by the National Intelligence Council, who describes itself as "a center of strategic thinking within the US Government, reporting to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and providing the President and senior policymakers with analyses of foreign policy issues that have been reviewed and coordinated throughout the Intelligence Community."

The New York Times article, "Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat", (September 23, 2006) stated:

National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative documents that the intelligence community produces on a specific national security issue, and are approved by John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence. Their conclusions are based on analysis of raw intelligence collected by all of the spy agencies.

So according to Bush the entire, non-partisan intelligence community of the United States is naive and mistaken in its estimate of global terrorism and its implications for America. If Bush is correct, for a change, America is totally screwed because our spy agencies are incompetent.

Bush also said...

"To suggest that if we weren't in Iraq we would see a rosier scenario with fewer extremists joining the radical movement requires us to ignore 20 years of experience. We weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th. We weren't in Iraq and thousands of fighters were trained in terror camps inside your country Mr. President. We weren't in Iraq when they first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. We weren't in Iraq when they bombed the Cole. We weren't in Iraq when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania."

This is an odd argument. True, we weren't in Iraq when all those things happen. We also weren't in Bora Bora. Should we invade Bora Bora? Bush does a fine job of illustrating that our presence in Iraq had nothing with numerous prior attacks. What he doesn't prove is that being in Iraq either would have prevented any of those attacks or will somehow prevent future attacks. He just implies it, without support, and expects us to accept it as gospel.

What Bush totally omits is that during all of these events we were in Saudi Arabia. We weren't fighting there, but we had military bases. The presence of those bases was one of the reasons Osama bin Laden gave for the 9/11 attacks.

And for those keeping score, chalk up another statement by Bush implying there was a link between Iraq and 9/11. Oh, he doesn't directly claim it. I guess he's just spouting unrelated facts, kind of like, "Terrorists want to kill us. I like toast."

"My judgment is if we weren't in Iraq they'd find some other excuse because they have ambitions."

Bush may be correct here. When trying to recruit people you use whatever means you can. Ask our own military, with their often creative techniques.

But my question is so what? How did invading Iraq help? Again, Bush's statement does nothing to explain how invading Iraq was a good idea, or even a particularly useful one. All he does is agree that al Qaeda and other radical fundamentalist Islamic organizations are using our invasion of Iraq as a recruitment tool. He acknowledged this explicitly earlier in the press conference.

Once again, Bush claimed...

"The best way to protect America is defeat these killers overseas so we do not have to face them here at home."

Don't you love it when he trots out that old chestnut? It's a classic.

"We're not going to let lies and propaganda by the enemy dictate how we win this war."

Apparently, Bush isn't going to let his own intelligence experts or generals dictate how we win this war, either.

And to all the people screaming at their screens that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who needed to be removed from power, you're right. But that wasn't our job. It was the Iraqis' job. They needed to do it for themselves just like we did when we got rid of our king, just like the French did when they got rid of their king. Deposing a dictator is an internal matter. The people have to want control of their country bad enough to take it. Otherwise, you get the chaotic results we see today. After the first Gulf War, Saddam stayed inside his own borders. As far as combat goes, that's all that should have mattered to us.

Copyright © 2006