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December 7, 2004
More Doom And Gloom From Langley

The New York Times rehashes some old news on Iraq in today's edition, as they report on a CIA cable that gives a pessimistic prognosis for Iraq. The cable acknowledges the progress made by the Coalition to some extent but predicts a long and rocky road ahead -- as if that should be news to anyone:

The cable, sent late last month as the officer ended a yearlong tour, presented a bleak assessment on matters of politics, economics and security, the officials said. They said its basic conclusions had been echoed in briefings presented by a senior C.I.A. official who recently visited Iraq.

The officials described the two assessments as having been "mixed," saying that they did describe Iraq as having made important progress, particularly in terms of its political process, and credited Iraqis with being resilient.

But over all, the officials described the station chief's cable in particular as an unvarnished assessment of the difficulties ahead in Iraq. They said it warned that the security situation was likely to get worse, including more violence and sectarian clashes, unless there were marked improvements soon on the part of the Iraqi government, in terms of its ability to assert authority and to build the economy.

Together, the appraisals, which follow several other such warnings from officials in Washington and in the field, were much more pessimistic than the public picture being offered by the Bush administration before the elections scheduled for Iraq next month, the officials said. The cable was sent to C.I.A. headquarters after American forces completed what military commanders have described as a significant victory, with the retaking of Falluja, a principal base of the Iraqi insurgency, in mid-November.

First, one has to wonder about the characterization of "much more pessimistic"; no one in the Bush Administration has said anything except that the violence in Iraq would only get worse the closer we come to their election. The "insurgents" know that a freely-elected legislature will have much more credibility than the interim government developed in concert between the Anglo-American Coalition and leading Iraqi citizens. The terrorists intend on broadening their campaign of intimidation and provocation in hopes of either keeping Iraqis away from the polls and scared off of security jobs, or touching off an interdenominational civil war -- or all of the above. Bush and his team have repeatedly said as much, which is the main reason that the Coalition shifted strategies to a much more aggressive military approach in Samarra, Fallujah, and elsewhere.

Somehow the New York Times, which purports to be a newspaper, must have missed all of these speeches by George Bush where he promised nothing but a tough slog. Stamping out terrorism isn't the same as liberating Grenada from a bunch of third-rate Cuban patrols, and the Administration has never suggested it was. The Times uses the tried-and-true strategy of erecting a strawman -- the supposed "easy victory" promise -- and then knocking it down.

On one point, however, the Times concedes that their editorial board may have been misinformed, at the least, when they warned that new CIA chief Porter Goss wanted nothing but yes-men:

In recent months, some Republicans, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, have accused the agency of seeking to undermine President Bush by disclosing intelligence reports whose conclusions contradict the administration or its policies. But senior intelligence officials including John E. McLaughlin, the departing deputy director of central intelligence, have disputed those assertions. One government official said the new assessments might suggest that Porter J. Goss, the new director of central intelligence, was willing to listen to views different from those publicly expressed by the administration.

In fact, what Goss wants to do is to keep CIA cables out of the political spotlight. These leaks intend on embarrassing the administration into changing policies, and the CIA operatives who shovel these out to eager news organizations like the Gray Lady use their supposedly non-partisan positions to wield potent political power. Having a political CIA should worry everyone, whether one disagrees with George Bush or agrees with him. What's more, the leaks only give one perspective on the situation in Iraq, because the rest of the data remains classified, and for good reason -- we have troops on the ground there who bear the brunt of any adverse reaction from the data.

Does the rest of the data bear out what this cable says? Maybe, and maybe even probably, since no one with half a brain expected anything less from Iraq or the terrorists in Southwest Asia who desperately cling to the hope of gaining the upper hand there. But word from the boots on the ground, written in e-mails home to family and friends and in numerous milblogs, show that the majority of Iraq has progressed nicely. The press manages to miss that story pretty regularly as well.

I'm sure the Times patted itself on the back for this important scoop, but those of us who have remained informed and kept our ears open already knew this would remain a tough fight until the end. Don't expect that the terrorists will go away so that free Iraqis can elect a democracy in peace. However, just as in Afghanistan, you can expect that the elections will take place regardless and the Iraqis will create the democracy they need and want, and that example will serve notice to the kleptocracies of Southwest Asia.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 7, 2004 6:09 AM

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