Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Beeman--The National "Intelligence" Estimate

The National "Intelligence" Estimate

William O. Beeman

I cannot begin to express my dismay at the announcement of the cowardly and anemic national intelligence estimate today. The operative sentence, reported at least in the New York Times, was “These assessments, which are based on incomplete or at times fragmentary information, are not a fact, proof or knowledge." Boy howdy. It is not only the information that is fragmentary, it is the "terrorist network" itself. The administration continues to do its best to present a monolithic picture of terrorism when all evidence points to isolated groups with intensely parochial interests operating without any central control, except perhaps a kind of franchise label to make them seem part of something bigger than they really are.

The administration has tried desperately to link the original Al Qaeda to Iran, to the Iraqi insurgency, to Hezbollah, to the Taliban, to Anwar al-Islam and even to Hamas and various North African splinter groups. The term "affiliated" should be seen for what it is when used to link Osama bin Laden to any of these other groups--a fudge factor designed to support a mythology of the Bush administration's own creation. None of these groups can be approached with the same strategies that must be applied to the others. They do not use the same tactics. They don't have the same ideologies. Most importantly, they do not have the same leadership, nor political survival strategies. Hamas and Hezbollah are political entities in their own countries. Hamas is fighting Israel and the supporters of Al-Fatah; Hezbollah is fighting Israel and its own Lebanese central government. The Iraqi insurgency is rebelling against its own central government and the United States. The Taliban once housed Al-Qaeda, but they are primarily interested in regaining control over Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda itself in the far-away hills of Pakistan may launch verbal volleys at the United States, but it still seethes at the Saudi Royal Family. And we are now to believe that all of these entities, with all of their local concerns and investments in local conflicts are ganged up with the sole purpose of attacking the United States on its shores? This may satisfy an ego- and ethno-centric American public but it makes no logical sense at all.

Of course, the all purpose logical glue for some in Washington is to claim that Iran is masterminding everything. This is either wishful thinking, or a diabolical deceit of the American public.

The very saddest realization of all is that every one of these groups pre-existed the 9/11 tragedy. Their interests and their struggles go back decades. If Americans only had minimal education about the region, they would see this charade for what it is--a serious attempt to fool and scare the American public into granting this administration yet another loan extension on our national lives, liberties and treasure--just to "get them through the next few months," when they can dump the whole mess they have created on the next poor saps, and go off to Crawford or wherever and pontificate about how they acted on "principle" rather than "politics."