The New York Times | Editorial
Wednesday 18 July 2007
It had to happen. President Bush's bungling of the war in Iraq has been the talk of the summer. On Capitol Hill, some of the more reliable Republicans are writing proposals to force Mr. Bush to change course. A showdown vote is looming in the Senate.
Enter, stage right, the fear of terrorism.
Yesterday, the director of national intelligence released a report with the politically helpful title of "The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland," and Fran Townsend, the president's homeland security adviser, held a news conference to trumpet its findings. The message, as always: Be very afraid. And don't question the president.
Certainly, the report's conclusions are disturbing. Nearly six years after 9/11, terrorism remains a huge threat. Al Qaeda has replaced leaders killed or captured by the United States, regrouped in its former home base in the tribal lands on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and is trying to use affiliated terrorists in Iraq "to raise resources and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives."
If the report is given an honest reading, it is a powerful rebuke to Mr. Bush's approach to the war on terror. It vindicates those who say that the Iraq war is a distraction from the real fight against terrorism - a fight that is not going at all well.
The administration, however, seized on the report and, through bald political timing, tried to use it to dampen calls for an end to Mr. Bush's catastrophic war. That required some particularly twisted logic. Ms. Townsend, for example, dismissed a reporter who asked whether the fact that Al Qaeda has regrouped in the area from which it planned the 9/11 attacks suggested that it was a mistake to divert American forces to Iraq. She said Al Qaeda headed by Osama bin Laden and the terrorists in Iraq that use the name Al Qaeda are the same.
In fact, we've seen no evidence of that, and none was in the intelligence report, at least the page and a half of conclusions released to the public.
Was there a link before the war between Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader in Iraq? Ms. Townsend refused to answer. "This is ground long covered," she snapped.
Indeed it is. The answer is, "No." In fact, Mr. Bush's bungled invasion spawned a new terrorist army and gave it a home base. Now, the report said, those terrorists are the only ones affiliated with Al Qaeda that are "known to have expressed a desire to attack the" United States.
The White House denied that the report was timed to the Senate debate. But the administration controls the timing of such releases and the truth is that fear of terrorism is the only shard remaining of Mr. Bush's justification for invading Iraq.
This administration has never hesitated to play on fear for political gain, starting with the first homeland security secretary, Tom Ridge, and his Popsicle-coded threat charts. It is a breathtakingly cynical ploy, but in the past it has worked to cow Democrats into silence, if not always submission, and herd Republicans back onto the party line.
That must not happen this time. By now, Congress surely can see through the president's fear-mongering and show Mr. Bush the exit from Iraq that he refuses to find for himself.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)
....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free