Today's lead story in the Washington Post and New York Times at 1:20 p.m.: Bush names John Negroponte, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, to be the new U.S. intelligence chief. Here's a Scribble starring Negroponte, and here's another Scribble where Cheney mentions Negroponte.
Surprisingly, the testimony yesterday of reps of the CIA and DIA before Congress concluded that George W. Bush's and the neocons' Middle East policy is actually fomenting terrorism instead of making us safer. These are the people that the red-state voters put Bush in charge of by reelecting him, apparently approving his Middle East policy. There's some irony at work here.
From today's Washington Post:
War Helps Recruit Terrorists, Hill Told
Intelligence Officials Talk Of Growing Insurgency
By Dana Priest and Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 17, 2005; Page A01
The insurgency in Iraq continues to baffle the U.S. military and intelligence communities, and the U.S. occupation has become a potent recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, top U.S. national security officials told Congress yesterday.
"Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists," CIA Director Porter J. Goss told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
"These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism," he said. "They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries."
On a day when the top half-dozen U.S. national security and intelligence officials went to Capitol Hill to talk about the continued determination of terrorists to strike the United States, their statements underscored the unintended consequences of the war in Iraq.
"The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists," Goss said in his first public testimony since taking over the CIA. Goss said Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist who has joined al Qaeda since the U.S. invasion, "hopes to establish a safe haven in Iraq" from which he could operate against Western nations and moderate Muslim governments.
"Our policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment," Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate panel. "Overwhelming majorities in Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia believe the U.S. has a negative policy toward the Arab world."
Jacoby said the Iraq insurgency has grown "in size and complexity over the past year" and is now mounting an average of 60 attacks per day, up from 25 last year. Attacks on Iraq's election day last month reached 300, he said, double the previous one-day high of 150, even though transportation was virtually locked down.