Monday, June 19, 2006

War on terror index v. the gospel of disinformation

The air thins at the summit of Mt. Wingnuttia, which might explain the light on substance, kick 'em in the nuts glandular reaction at the GOP. Dumb and deceptive, the pitiful Republican response to the appearance of John Murtha on NBC's Meet The Press and his redeployment plan (as opposed to the non-plan of "stay the course") included propaganda one would expect from a College Republican frat boy:

Today, Congressman John Murtha continued to demonstrate an inability to comprehend that surrendering the central front in the war on terror is not a strategy to defeat the terrorists.

My dear ill-advised RNC. Terrorism has boomed under the faulty national security policies of Bush-Cheney. No wonder Iraq is such a mess under your party's leadership if you can't follow the facts. First, the central front in the War of Terror isn't in Iraq but in... wait for it... America, our homeland, where terrorists actually attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001. How soon they forget! And how could they? After exploiting 9/11 ad nauseum at every given chance? FYI, the terrorist hijackers hit us in NYC and Washington, D.C., not Iraq. Failing to recognize the central front prompted an unnecessary invasion that has stifled progress in the War on Terror. I guess such details prove elusive when one composes political rhetoric meant to smear Democrats and mislead the electorate, words that were never intended to educate or inform. The truth is too scary.

Perhaps such GOP misdirection and Bushian incompetence explains its poor ratings from the Terrorism Index, a bipartisan evaluation compiled by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy Magazine. More than 100 of America's "most esteemed terrorism and national security experts" delivered an assessment that ought to make Republicans blush for their erroneous hatchet job on Murtha. Ah, but the Republicans' strength isn't factual. Theirs is the gospel of disinformation, as Murtha described, "a failed policy wrapped in illusion."

Eighty-seven percent of the Terrorism Index' bipartisan experts said the Iraq War has hurt our national security (with emphasis):

A vast majority think that the world today is more dangerous for the American people. Fewer than two in 10 believe the United States is winning the war on terror. [A bipartisan majority (84%) say we're losing.] More than eight in 10 believe we are likely to face a terrorist attack on the scale of September 11 within the next 10 years.

Over half list Islamic animosity and the Iraq war as the main reasons why the world is becoming more dangerous. The experts put nuclear weapons and materials as the top threat, followed closely by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as a whole and then terrorism. Only four percent rank Iran as the greatest threat.

The experts also have serious concerns about the effectiveness of the U.S. national security apparatus and sharply criticize the U.S. government's efforts in numerous areas of national security, including public diplomacy, intelligence, and homeland security. They give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a score of 2.9 out of 10 in its functions related to national security, and more than 80 percent of the surveyed experts characterize efforts at intelligence reform to date as "fair" or "poor."

Coming from reliable sources...

Nearly 80 percent of the index participants have worked in the U.S. government--of these more than half were in the executive branch, one third in the military, and 17 percent in the intelligence community.

Other highlights from the full text of the Terrorism Index:

  • Eighty-one percent believe the detention of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, negatively affects the war on terror

  • "Foreign-policy experts have never been in so much agreement about an administration's performance abroad," says Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and an index participant. "The reason is that it's clear to nearly all that Bush and his team have had a totally unrealistic view of what they can accomplish with military force and threats of force."

  • More than half of the index's experts said that creating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has had no positive impact in the war against terror

  • Asked to name the country that has produced the largest number of global terrorists, the index's foreign-policy experts pointed to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan--three of America's marquee allies in the Muslim world.

  • After September 11, however, Saudi Arabia has emerged as the leading theater of jihadist-Salafist thought and action."

  • Eighty-four percent of the experts said they believe a terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001, is likely or certain to happen in the next five years.

  • More than a quarter said a 9/11-scale attack is certain to occur in America within the next decade.

  • Asked about the likelihood of a smaller strike akin to the July 2005 London bombings, 91 percent agreed that such an attack is likely or certain by 2016; more than half said that such an attack could happen this year.

  • Roughly two thirds of the experts said that some part of America's infrastructure--a port, train station, or major landmark--will be targeted.

Perhaps the GOP might want to retract its words against "Murtha Democrats" for advocating a redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq:

Americans have never feared a suicide bombing the way the people of Amman or Jerusalem have. But there may be reason to think that will soon change. A recent study by Rand found that 81 percent of all suicide attacks in the past 30 or so years have occurred since Sept. 11, 2001, and the primary motivation for each of these attacks was a military intervention or occupation such as the ongoing operations in Iraq. The odds that America can continue to elude the world's most popular form of terrorism may be fading fast.

No wonder the Republican Party offered such a boisterous whinny-boo-blah at John Murtha. Can't have people especially moderate swing voters waking up to the harsh realities of Bush's errant foreign policy or the sensible solutions proposed by Democrats. Might make Bush and the GOP look more incompetent and lethally negligent than they already do. If that's possible.

How many terrorism experts do you think work within the political apparatus of the GOP? For that matter, how many terrorism experts work in the Bush Administration? Ha! The Administration has a reputation for hemorrhaging very good analysts with "no dramatic improvement in how spies collect intelligence about terrorist targets." Stateside, the executive branch and its bureaucrats couldn't muster an effective response to America's worst disaster, Hurricane Katrina, and on whose watch did 9/11 happen? Anyone remember the lightning-quick, take-action stance of Bush when the WTC towers were hit? Yeah, a president mesmerized by My Pet Goat is just what America needs during a national security crisis. Just because the preznit talks tough doesn't mean he can get the job done. Apparently, according to terrorism experts, he's failing.

As Karl Rove cranks up his election machine to attack Democratic policies on Iraq and national security, remember that Bush and the Republicans have had five years to fight the War on Terror. Then ask yourself, why is the world more dangerous for Americans now than it was five years ago?