Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bond Continues Misleading Constituents About Iraq

If Missouri really does pride itself on being "the show-me state," you have to wonder how long it's going to be before Missourians demand that Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) show them the truth.

Bond, who has been one of George W. Bush's most ardent rubber-stampers ever since the Supreme Court handed Bush the presidency, has shown repeatedly that he's not beyond bending or breaking the truth for any White House cause. After all, it was just last month that Bond went public with glowing and demonstrably false statements about how well the troops surge is going in Iraq. It seems like his staff must hope they can distribute disingenuous press releases to the Missouri media and get some unchecked local ink without any meddling bloggers getting in the way.

I guess I'll be the fly in the Bond ointment again.

The latest example of Fibber Bond blatantly misleading his constituents came last week when the Director of National Intelligence released key findings from the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), updating the country on prevailing terrorist threats to America.

The 'Key Judgments' section of the NIE document (PDF), which is produced collaboratively by the nation's 16 Intelligence agencies, declares that America is in as much danger or more than before 9/11 and that al-Qaeda's efforts to base an attack on U.S. soil will continue.

"Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al-Qaeda senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al-Qaeda will intensify its efforts to put operatives here," said the NIE. "As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment."

"We assess that al-Qaeda will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the Homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups. Of note, we assess that al-Qaeda will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland. In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qaeda to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks."

In other words, the strength of the al-Qaeda operation we've engendered in Iraq has boosted Osama bin Laden's global capabilities to harm our country.

The Christian Science Monitor didn’t think the report was good news, running a headline that said " National Intelligence Estimate: Al Qaeda stronger and a threat to US homeland" while the New York Times called the NIE a "bleak new assessment" and a "dreary judgment" under the headline "Six Years After 9/11, the Same Threat."

"The summary of the latest National Intelligence Estimate, which was released Tuesday by the White House, tells Americans, in effect, that they are less safe now than they were after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, almost six years ago," read the lead editorial in the July 19 Pittsburgh Post Gazette, under the headline "Four years into Iraq, America is no safer."

But what did the big happy press release issued by Bond last Wednesday tell people in the Show-Me State? "Intelligence report confirms America is safer since September 11th."

“Today’s report confirms that our terror fighting tools and efforts are working. We must continue to use everything in our arsenal to protect Americans from another terrorist attack,” said Bond.

But he urged caution and used the happy news to warn that we still need to curtail the Constitution and "give law enforcement and the intelligence community the tools needed to track, interrogate and prosecute terrorist like the Patriot Act and modernization of the 1979 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."

Joe Biden (D-DE), the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- and a guy who knows his way around such reports -- disagrees with Bond, calling the latest NIE a "devastating indictment of Bush Administration failures."

“The NIE now confirms what was reported last week: the al-Qaeda we failed to finish off in Afghanistan and Pakistan has 'regenerated' and remains intent on attacking us at home," said Biden. "That should put to rest once and for all this Administration’s false refrain that we’re fighting them over there in Iraq so they won’t hit us here."

Senate Intelligence Committee member Russ Feingold (D-WI), who has been warning for two years about the fact that the Iraq war has allowed al-Qaeda to gain strength worldwide, reiterated his message that the Iraq occupation is a deadly, expensive distraction from the real challenges America should be meeting.

“The NIE confirms that al-Qaeda is the most serious threat to the United States, and that key elements of that threat have been regenerated or even enhanced," said Feingold last week. "The Administration's policies in Iraq have also allowed the emergence of an al-Qaeda affiliate that didn't exist before the war. According to the NIE, al-Qaeda's association with this group helps it raise resources and recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for attacks against the U.S. The sooner we redeploy from Iraq, the sooner we can develop policies that deny al-Qaeda these advantages and allow us to effectively combat this terrorist network and its affiliates worldwide.”

And even military newspapers like The Army Times concluded from the NIE that the Iraq war has created a new and massive branch office for al-Qaeda -- and one that now poses a threat that did not exist before.

"The report makes clear that al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has not yet posed a direct threat to U.S. soil, could become a problem here," wrote The Army Times last Tuesday. “Of note, the analysts said, 'we assess that al-Qaeda will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaeda in Iraq, its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the homeland.'"

All of this adds up, as it often does with Senator Bond, to a scenario where we are forced to conclude that he is either the dumbest man ever to serve as ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, or such a compulsive liar that he'll tell his constituents anything, under the assumption that at least the percentage who watch Fox News will be none the wiser.

And lest you think that the Senate's collective stance on this was a strictly partisan affair-- with all Democrats reading the NIE with dread, while the GOP side of the aisle uniformly hailed the good news -- you need simply look at how many Republican Senators joined Bond in shouting the NIE's good news to the folks back home.

Despite the fact that any legitimate good news on Iraq and the bogus "war on terror" would be greeted with a press release tsunami from every GOP member of the House or Senate, do you know how many Republican Senators issued any statement at all last week about the NIE?

One. Kit Bond.

In a party famous for standing together on the most transparent spin and carefully-crafted lies on behalf of the Bush White House, Bond stood alone even among Republicans in offering up this bunch of feel-good nonsense.

And Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) unloaded on the Senate floor Friday, taking to task Bush, Cheney, Bond and the whole White House cabal who let Osama bin Laden run free, while saying how great things are going in Iraq.

"Now we have a report that says Osama bin Laden and his top deputies are in a safe haven," said Dorgan. "Six years after they murdered thousands of Americans, they are in a safe haven. There ought not be one square inch of ground on this planet that ought to be a safe haven for the leaders of al-Qaeda."

That all makes perfect sense -- unless you're on Senator Bond's planet.