Where Have You Gone, Daniel Ellsberg?

At first I wasn’t very interested in the NIE on Iraq’s effect on terrorism that Bush has just agreed to declassify. It’s been known for a number of years that Iraq – being an occupation and all – has exacerbated the terrorist threat. The threat’s still very small, but it’s worse now than it was in February 2003. The NIE is just confirmation of this fact. In a way, this is the story of all criticisms of the Bush administration’s conduct. First they’re not even talked about. Then there are whispers in the more leftist strands of the opposition. Then the troops begin talking, but not the leaders. Then Democratic leadership buys in, and before you know it the CIA, DoD, and/or POTUS are agreeing. The best example of this would be the criticism of Iraq as an occupation. First only ANSWER was using that line; eventually Bush was referring to “the occupation” himself. It’s a fairly linear progression, and the Iraq/terror critique is following it. It was nice to have the Directorate of Intelligence’s stamp of approval, but it’s nothing new.
Then I heard about the other document. It turns out there’s a wide-ranging, comprehensive analysis of administration conduct in Iraq that is, let’s say, not all rainbows and ponies. If it’s as complete and damning as it sounds like, we could have another Pentagon Papers on our hands – and in time for the election no less. If in October every newspaper in the country is circulating a CIA document showing Iraq to be a quagmire, exposing those who want to stay as unserious, and proving that those who want to leave are the last honest (wo)men in the country, that’s very, very good news, both politically and policy-wise. We have to pull out all the stops to get this thing released. It isn’t just about taking back Congress. It’s about what that new Congress can force the administration to do. It can’t stop the war, but it can discredit the people who started it, and in doing so ensure that we’ll have someone in office on January 20, 2009 who’s going to pull all 130,000 troops out, immediately.

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