Colonels' Corner: NIE Embarrassment

September 28, 2006

What a surprise! The New York Times, followed by its copycat little cousin The Washington Post, recently published yet another set of classified documents. No surprise here. Some, or a group of some, disgruntled government employees gave highly-classified documents, assessing Iraq's inclusion in the War on Terror, to those not authorized to get them.

Within the documents was the common sense, of course, that the terrorists have gotten stronger because of the war in Iraq. Only an idiot would argue that we are somehow safer because we went to Iraq. Heck, recently we had the prime minister of Iraq kissing the president of Iran. I am glad that we stopped Iraq from supporting terrorism, but the way we have conducted that war has been problematic for us.

So, no, that was not the surprise. It was not a surprise that the New York Times published secret stuff. The real surprise is how banal and sophomoric the report is — it actually says the Internet is being used by terrorists. No kidding. The report is so bland that is actually gives both sides of the same dumb argument. I know you think I am kidding here — well, check this out:

• “Although we cannot measure the extent of the spread with precision, a large body of all-source reporting indicates that activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.”

• “If this trend continues, threats to U.S. interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide.”

• “Greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority nations would alleviate some of the grievances jihadists exploit. Over time, such progress, together with sustained, multi-faceted programs targeting the vulnerabilities of the jihadist movement and continued pressure on al-Qa'ida, could erode support for the jihadists.”

I cannot make this up; this is your government at its billion-dollar-wastefulness-best. We simply cannot win this war with such a combination of incompetence, and leaked silliness. We are fighting a war, but between the leaker, the printers of leaks, and a risk-adverse, cannot-get-it-done leadership, we are in big trouble.

As bad as the leak is, it is the least of our problems.