Media Projection and the NIE

The media’s dishonest approach to the NIE continues unabated. Numerous examples abound, but Isikoff offers us an unparalleled display of projection and hypocrisy.

The by-line: The National Intelligence Estimate doesn’t say what Bush says it does.

As a starting point, the premise of the story is misleading as I don’t believe Bush summarized what the NIE said, but rather he simply released it for people to judge for themselves. Paradoxically, this is something most media outlets have refused to do. Isikoff, like the rest, prefers to carefully control what we should know, by summing up the entire report in a single paragraph containing a handful of carefully selected quotes. Here’s how he summarizes what he calls “the actual wording” of the NIE:

The NIE, which is supposed to reflect the consensus judgment of the U.S. intelligence community, states that the global jihadist movement “is spreading and adapting to counter-terrorism efforts”; that the number of jihadists are “increasing in both number and geographic dispersion,” and that the war in Iraq had become “the cause celebre” for jihadis around the world, “breeding a deep resentment of U.S involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”

There’s no mention in the article about the NIE citing the importance of bringing democracy to the middle east – the hallmark of Bush’s fight against terrorism. Further, there’s no mention of the NIE’s warnings about dangers of failing in Iraq. In fact, Isikoff suggests the NIE doesn’t say it:

None of this necessarily undercuts the president’s argument that a U.S. defeat in Iraq would embolden the worldwide jihadi movement

The NIE, as parsed by Isikoff, doesn’t necessarily undercut Bush’s position? In fact the NIE follows the president’s argument precisely:

“We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.”and

“If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and
groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives.”

It gets worse. Take a look at this quote from the Bush administration which Isikoff cites as an example of how it conflicts with the NIE:

“Together with our coalition partners,” Bush said, “we’ve removed terrorist sanctuaries, disrupted their finances, killed and captured key operatives, broken up terrorist cells in American and other nations and stopped many attacks before they’re carried out. We’re on the offense against the terrorists on every battlefront.…”

Yet here is what the NIE says (in the fist paragraph no less), which Isikoff conveniently fails to mention:

“United States-led counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa’ida and disrupted its operations”

Remarkably, the rest of the article is largely spent chastising the White House on how it “mischaracterizes intelligence-community assessments in politically useful ways.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email