The Bush administration is attempting to suppress key data showing that its Global War on Terrorism (or GWOT as government bureaucrats have dubbed it) likely has been counterproductive. According to Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert who still has many sources within the intelligence community, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rices office is suppressing data showing that the number of major terrorist attacks worldwide exploded from 175 in 2003 to 625 in 2004, the highest number since the Cold War began to wane in 1985. U.S. officials said that when analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center declined the office of the secretarys invitation to use a methodology that would reduce the number of terrorist attacks, her office terminated publication of the State Departments annual Patterns of Global Terrorism report.
No matter what else George W. Bush does in office, historians will define his presidency primarily by his GWOT, initiated after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Yet the Bush administration is trying to hide important data that might very well lead historians and the American public to conclude that the GWOT has been disastrous for U.S. and global security.
In the aftermath of 9/11, instead of focusing on a vigorous and effective covert war against the perpetrators of the attacksal Qaedathe administration manipulated public opinion to launch the much ballyhooed and excessive GWOT against every terrorist group on the planet, whether they had ever attacked the United States or not. (The definition of a terrorist group seemed to be any armed non-governmental entity that didnt agree with U.S. policies.) For example, under the guise of fighting the group Abu Sayef, the U.S. government used the 9/11 attacks to renew its moribund security relationship with the Philippine government. The tiny group was not a threat to the Philippine government and certainly not to the U.S. superpower.
To make matters worse, as part of the GWOT, the administration then cynically manufactured an operational link between two unlikely alliesal Qaeda and Saddam Husseinas an excuse to settle old scores with Saddam. Four years later, because of the administrations distraction, the dangerous top leadership of al Qaeda remains at large. In fact, perhaps the invasion of Iraq was meant, in part, to distract the American public from the administrations failure to neutralize the worst threat to the continental United States since the British invaded during the War of 1812.
In addition to distracting from the important task of quietly neutralizing al Qaeda, the Iraq invasion has needlessly killed between 26,000 and 108,000 U.S. and allied troops, U.S. contract forces, Iraqi soldiers, and Iraqi civilians and overstretched the U.S. military in a seemingly endless Vietnam-style quagmire.
Critics have claimed that invading and occupying Iraqa Muslim countrywould inflame a radical Islamic jihad against the United States similar to that which afflicted another infidel nationthe Soviet Unionwhen it invaded and occupied Islamic Afghanistan in 1979. Already evidence existsin the form of signature suicide bombingsthat foreign jihadists from all over the world have streamed into Iraq to fight the United States, much as they swarmed into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan during the 1980s.
The Bush administration has always maintained that drawing Islamic jihadists into Iraq is actually good because the United States would be better off fighting them there rather than in the American homeland. The president has called Iraq the central front in the GWOT. When fighting nation-states, the militarys usual approach of holding the adversary as far away from the homeland as possible makes sense. Unlike large enemy armies, however, small, agile terrorist groups can stealthily infiltrate all layers of defense and surface in the U.S. homeland. So we may very well have to fight them both in Iraq and at home. Also, the fighting them there so that we dont have to fight them here logic assumes that the number of terrorists is constant. Critics have alleged that the invasion of Iraq has swelled the ranks of terrorists by converting many more fundamentalist Islamists into active warriors. The Bush administration is now suppressing government data that give credence to just that allegation.
Since the Iraq war went south, mainstream U.S. media feel safe in prominently displaying some of the unpleasant facts about that conflictfor example, allegations that the Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to exaggerate Iraqs efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Yet the searing effect of 9/11 still makes the press leery of criticizing similar administration pressure on intelligence analysts to hide the apparent failure of the GWOT.
Such media skittishness is reminiscent of their behavior prior to the Iraq invasion, when it was impolitic to question the administrations march to war. The media buried in its back pages a declassified CIA report indicating that Saddam Hussein was unlikely to use any weapons of mass destruction against the United States or give them to terrorists unless backed against the wall during a U.S. invasion. Apparently, the nations leading intelligence agency destroying the main rationale for its bosss misguided and aggressive policy wasnt headline news. Alas, the same is now occurring with data indicating that the administrations grandiose GWOT may very well be counterproductive.
If the U.S. news media werent so timid about covering such explosive facts, perhaps the American public would just say no to government policies that endanger Americans and other people everywhere.
|Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute. Dr. Eland is a graduate of Iowa State University and received an M.B.A. in applied economics and Ph.D. in national security policy from George Washington University. He spent 15 years working for Congress on national security issues, including stints as an investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office.|
RECARVING RUSHMORE (UPDATED EDITION): Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty
Taking a distinctly new approach, Ivan Eland profiles each U.S. president from Washington to Obama on the merits of his policies and whether those strategies contributed to peace, prosperity, and liberty. This ranking system is based on how effective each president was in fulfilling his oath to uphold the Constitution.