comsc US Politics | AMERICAblog News: House Republicans release "new" report on Iraq, that they wrote three months ago and sat on for just the right day. Oh, and the report is wrong too.
Join Email List | About us | AMERICAblog Gay
Elections | Economic Crisis | Jobs | TSA | Limbaugh | Fun Stuff

House Republicans release "new" report on Iraq, that they wrote three months ago and sat on for just the right day. Oh, and the report is wrong too.

| Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are once again abusing their position to advance crass political objectives.

Two days ago the committee released a report (pdf) on al Qaeda titled "Al-Qaeda: The Many Faces of an Islamist Extremist Threat," a document written by a partisan staffer and pushed through the committee on a party-line vote. The document was written in June. That’s right, this report is so timely, so vital, that Republicans sat on it for over three months, releasing it just as President Bush is in the midst of his "Scare the bejeezus out of Americans" campaign. After their absurd report on Iran last month, they're putting on their thinking caps for al Qaeda.

Aside from the appalling timeline of this document, its contents are concurrently ridiculous and deplorable. There are a few quick hits worth noting, any one of which should instantly discredit the report: Although the authors spend four pages analyzing groups based in Indonesia, Libya, Algeria, and Pakistan, there is no substantive mention of Afghanistan -- none. Reports by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation are cited a whopping six times; by my quick count, only words from Osama himself are cited more often.

And, perhaps most disturbing of all, in a map of "Sunni Extremist Groups in the Unites States," the report lists 76 individual terrorist clusters in 45 U.S. cities. Seventy-six! Where are the arrests? Where are the trials? If the information is solid enough to put in an official government report, shouldn’t somebody be acting on it?

The report is pure propaganda. It is compiled exclusively from "open source" (public) information, with no newly-declassified information and no novel insight on the threat, organization, or capabilities of terrorist groups. These factors are really enough to thoroughly discredit the work, but just for fun, let’s look at some of the specific passages.

"[al Qaeda’s goals in Iraq are to] First, expel the Americans from Iraq. Second, establish an Islamic authority, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a Caliphate . . ."
The idea that Sunni religious fundamentalists could take over Iraq is absolutely absurd. The 60% Shia and 20% Kurd populations hate those guys, and even the 20% Sunni remain relatively secular and would never allow outside Sunni extremists to gain power. The idea that Iraq will become Afghanistan (that is, controlled by Sunni fundamentalists) is the perhaps the most ridiculous notion in the ongoing debate over the war. It is either unbelievably stupid or shockingly intellectually dishonest to present this as a legitimate possibility. And from the conclusion:
". . . without question we are a safer nation than we were before 9/11."
Bollocks. This administration’s policies and practices continue to damage and erode our national security, and Iraq continues to be a boon for terrorists, far more so than it ever would have been had we not invaded.

In his "additional views" at the end of the report, Intel Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra reveals the true purpose of the paper. It’s not oversight, which is the actual job of the committee, but rather this:
"Journalists and former political officials have begun in increasing numbers to suggest that our nation is not truly at war with terrorism, and that terrorism should more poperly be considered a law enforcement matter . . . I find this view to be disturbing, dangerous, and fundamentally incorrect . . . How, then, can the Committee beset convey this concern? Preparing an unclassified document that highlights the continuing terrorist threat..."
In other words, Rep. Hoekstra doesn’t like how people are thinking about al Qaeda, and since Republicans view the increasingly-dubious War on Terror as critical to their electoral opportunities, the House Intel Committee released a 30 page report, written over three months ago, on terrorism.

Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on intel, has really come around on many of these issues, and she deserves a lot of credit for it. She perfectly encapsulates the report in the "minority views" section:
"This paper is not a report of the Committee’s work. It is merely an assemblage of press clippings. It is a product of staff, not a bipartisan work product of the full Committee. It does not represent effective congressional oversight."
Shame on Republicans for abusing their power, shame on them for continuing to manipulate the intelligence process for political purposes, and shame on them for lacking the basic competence to do their job.

It’s not that I don’t think terrorism is a serious threat; it is. I just wonder why it only seems to be a Republican priority between August and November in even-numbered years. We have one chance, seven weeks from now, to show them what we think. One opportunity for accountability, and for change. One day. I can’t wait.

blog comments powered by Disqus