As a political matter, at least for the next few weeks, the intelligence findings will only fuel the argument over Iraq on both sides. Mr. Bush has grown increasingly insistent that nothing he has done in Iraq has worsened terrorism. America was not in Iraq during the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, he said, or during the bombings of the U.S.S. Cole or embassies in Africa, or on 9/11.
But that argument steps around the implicit question raised by the intelligence finding: whether postponing the confrontation with Saddam Hussein and focusing instead on securing Afghanistan, or dealing with issues like Iran’s nascent nuclear capability or the Middle East peace process, might have created a different playing field, one in which jihadists were deprived of daily images of carnage in Iraq to rally their sympathizers.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
From the New York Times, regarding the declassified summary (pdf) of the April, 2006, National Intelligence Estimate [my emphasis]: