Jennifer Loven is a lady with a reputation — one that the Power Line team has carefully documented. I’m sure she comes by her biases honestly– her husband, after all, worked for Bill Clinton and advised John Kerry during his run for office. Coming by your biases honestly, though, is a completely different thing from holding yourself out as an objective reporter for an ostensibly unbiased news agency. Of course, the reality is that there is perfect synchronicity when the rabidly anti-Bush Loven works for the equally rabidly anti-American AP.
In any event, Loven’s latest hatchet job is more subtle than her usual pieces of op-ed masquerading as news. This time, she reports on a speech Bush gave today in which he criticized the Democrats’ ability to handle the jihadist war being waged against us.
The article starts off with what actually sounds like news: Bush gave a speech criticizing the Democrats. Loven goes on to the next news point: the Democrats vehemently challenge Bush’s characterization of their ability to handle jihad. She then notes the timing of this rhetorical war: elections are a mere six weeks away. So far, so boring.
Things get interesting when Loven, predictably, drags in NIE stuff:
The war of words continued a nearly weeklong tussle by both parties over the implications of a newly revealed estimate, an analysis of terror trends put together by the nation’s top intelligence analysts in 16 spy agencies.
The document concluded that Iraq has become a “cause celebre” for jihadists worldwide, whom it said have grown in number and geographic reach. The report said the factors, such as the Iraq war, that are fueling the jihadist movement’s growth outweigh its vulnerabilities and that, if the current trend continues, risks to the U.S. interests at home and abroad will grow.
Portions of the five-month-old report were leaked over the weekend, and Bush ordered the key judgments – four of its 30 pages – declassified on Tuesday in hopes that wider availability of most conclusions would quell the criticism.
What was immediately obvious to me, but may not have been so obvious to those less news aware than I, is the fact that Loven restates the early NY Times talking points about the leaked portions of the NIE report, but ignores completely the conclusions that could be drawn from the more substantive material Bush officially released. Indeed, Loven is careful to imply that nothing in the more comprehensive and authorized release actually challenges the NY Times position: “Bush ordered the key judgmments . . . declassified on Tuesday in hopes that wider availability of most conclusions would quell the criticism.” A sentence such as that inevitably leads the reader to believe that these “hopes” were faint and unrealized.
The fact is that the report is neither an indictment nor an accolade. Instead, if one ignores political waffle, it states what it obvious to all: While the global Jihad is spreading, the US is also taking reasonable steps to deal with that spread (and there are further reasonable steps it can take, as well). This is scarcely a surprise to anyone who has been reading newspapers since 1979. The Iranian Revolution was the first salvo in the renewed jihad, and it has been gaining momentum ever since. To engage it in battle in Iraq may have accelerated its growth but, as the preceding 25 years have shown, doing nothing did not prevent its growth.
What I like about the report is the fact that it indicates that fighting Al Qaeda-led jihadism is doing something that our more passive approach never did: it’s damaging Al Qaeda. Thus, the report opens by noting that “United States-led counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa’ida and disrupted its operations.” This conclusion is not altered by the fact that the report also acknowledges that Al Qaeda continues to grow and change (something it was doing before the US took it on in battle, and something that it also does in countries that have desperately been showing their bellies).
Significantly, even if one strongly disagrees with the whole concept of fighting back, rather than immediately conceding defeat (as the Democrats would have had us do), the report is pretty clear on one fact: if the Islamists believe they’re losing in Iraq, they’ll become demoralized and go away. The unstated corollary is that, if we slink away, handing them a victory, nothing will stop them.
You should read the report for yourself. Mostly, it seems to say that Al Qaeda will continue to be a problem, but that there are ways to weaken and defuse it. To me, that’s good practical information. For Jennifer Loven to write what purports to be a news article, while leaving out most of the actual news, is just one more in the list of her disgraceful practices under AP’s aegis.
UPDATE: Here’s Jonah Goldberg saying what I was trying to say about the slow increase in Muslim violence (which was a pretty strong increase when you consider that this first phase culminated in 9/11), and the acceleration with the Iraq war:
If you’ve ever stood up to a bully, you know how this works. Confrontation tends to increase the chances of violence in the short term but decreases its likelihood in the long term.
As always, you’ll be giving yourself reading pleasure if you read the rest of Goldberg’s article.