Intelligence Report Verifies Criticisim of Bush “War on Terror”

Republicans have tried to frame the debate over Iraq as a case of Republicans being strong on national security while Democrats are weak. Liberals have countered by arguing that we need to be both strong and smart, but foolish Republican policies have only acted to strengthen foes such as al Qaeda and Iran. The lastest National Intelligence Estimate confirms arguments that the Iraq war has strengthened al Qaeda, and adds further evidence to the Democratic argument that Bush should have concentrated on fighting al Qaeda rather than getting involved in Iraq. The Washington Post reports:

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush has been able to deflect criticism of his counterterrorism policy by repeatedly noting the absence of any new domestic attacks and by citing the continuing threat that terrorists in Iraq pose to U.S. interests.

But this line of defense seemed to unravel a bit yesterday with the release of a new National Intelligence Estimate that concludes that al-Qaeda “has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability” by reestablishing a haven in Pakistan and reconstituting its top leadership. The report also notes that al-Qaeda has been able “to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks,” by associating itself with an Iraqi subsidiary.

These disclosures triggered a new round of criticism from Democrats and others who say that the administration took its eye off the ball by invading Iraq without first destroying Osama bin Laden’s organization in Afghanistan…

Some terrorism analysts say Bush has used inflated rhetoric to depict al-Qaeda in Iraq as part of the same group of extremists that attacked the United States on Sept. 11 — noting that the group did not exist until after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. These analysts say Bush also has overlooked the contribution that U.S. actions have made to the growth of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has been described as kind of a franchise of the main al-Qaeda network headed by bin Laden.

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