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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

This report alone ought to dictate the outcome of the election

(updated below)

If I were shaping the Democrats' election strategy, I would create a television commercial where someone reads the following four paragraphs -- from a new report in the NYT today -- and then I would air it over and over and over every single day as much as possible until November 7:

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

Numerous sources told the NYT about the contents of NIE, which "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." So this assessment -- that the war in Iraq has increased the terrorist threat to the U.S. -- is from the Bush administration itself and is the consensus of the same intelligence community which the administration purged of all dissidents.

Only in the U.S., with its toxic mix of Bush administration propaganda and media listlessness, could it ever even be a question open to debate whether invading, bombing and occupying a Muslim country in the Middle East for almost four years would fuel Muslim radicalism, inflame anti-American resentment, and create far more terrorists than ever existed before. And only in the current political climate where up is down could the political party directly responsible for severely exacerbating the terrorism problem with a pointless, disastrous and seemingly endless war have their chances for victory depend upon maximizing the country's focus on terrorism -- the very problem they have so severely exacerbated.

So, a recap of the Iraq war: there were never any WMDs. The proliferation of government death squads and militias in Iraq means that, compared to the Saddam era, human rights have worsened and torture has increased to record levels. Iranian influence has massively increased, as a result of a Shiite fundamentalist government loyal to Tehran replacing the former anti-Iranian regime. We've squandered hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives. And we have -- according to the consensus of our own intelligence community -- directly worsened the terrorist problem with our invasion, and continue to worsen it with our ongoing occupation.

How can anyone claim with a straight face that this war was a good idea? There are no even theoretical justifications left for it. And all of the Republican election-driven fearmongering over terrorism ought to be met with this clear, straightforward report documenting that that threat has worsened under this administration directly as a result of its policies and, in particular, as a result of its signature policy -- the war in Iraq.

UPDATE: For one of the most potently constructed arguments against the use of torture -- and specifically the damage it wreaks for the society which uses it -- read this entire Digby post.

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