Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Facts on the Ground in Iraq

Hugh Hewitt received an email yesterday from a USMC Major stationed in Baghdad, and posts the message in full. An excerpt:

The US media is abuzz today with the news of an intelligence report that is very negative about the prospects for Iraq's future. CNN's website says, "[The] National Intelligence Estimate was sent to the White House in July with a classified warning predicting the best case for Iraq was 'tenuous stability' and the worst case was civil war." That report, along with the car bombings and kidnappings in Baghdad in the past couple days are being portrayed in the media as more proof of absolute chaos and the intransigence of the insurgency.

From where I sit, at the Operational Headquarters in Baghdad, that just isn't the case. Let's lay out some background, first about the "National Intelligence Estimate." The most glaring issue with its relevance is the fact that it was delivered to the White House in July . That means that the information that was used to derive the intelligence was gathered in the Spring - in the immediate aftermath of the April battle for Fallujah, and other events. The report doesn't cover what has happened in July or August, let alone September.

The naysayers will point to the recent battles in Najaf and draw parallels between that and what happened in Fallujah in April. They aren't even close. The bad guys did us a HUGE favor by gathering together in one place and trying to make a stand. It allowed us to focus on them and defeat them. Make no mistake, Al Sadr's troops were thoroughly smashed. The estimated enemy killed in action is huge. Before the battles, the residents of the city were afraid to walk the streets. Al Sadr's enforcers would seize people and bring them to his Islamic court where sentence was passed for religious or other violations. Long before the battles people were looking for their lost loved ones who had been taken to "court" and never seen again. Now Najafians can and do walk their streets in safety. Commerce has returned and the city is being rebuilt. Iraqi security forces and US troops are welcomed and smiled upon. That city was liberated again. It was not like Fallujah - the bad guys lost and are in hiding or dead.

You may not have even heard about the city of Samarra. Two weeks ago, that Sunni Triangle city was a "No-go" area for US troops. But guess what? The locals got sick of living in fear from the insurgents and foreign fighters that were there and let them know they weren't welcome. They stopped hosting them in their houses and the mayor of the town brokered a deal with the US commander to return Iraqi government sovereignty to the city without a fight. The people saw what was on the horizon and decided they didn't want their city looking like Fallujah in April or Najaf in August.

This is interesting in light of Senator Kerry's foreign policy speech yesterday at NYU, where he relies on press reports(!) of that same dated intelligence estimate to attack President Bush as a liar.

In June, the President declared, “The Iraqi people have their country back.” Just last week, he told us: “This country is headed toward democracy… Freedom is on the march.”

But the administration’s own official intelligence estimate, given to the President last July, tells a very different story.

According to press reports, the intelligence estimate totally contradicts what the President is saying to the American people.

So do the facts on the ground.

Why would someone who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and whose running mate is currently on the Select Committee on Intelligence need to rely on press reports? And then there's this tidbit from Viking Pundit:
Where was Kerry?

In a gambit devoid of all sense of irony, John Kerry has decided to criticize President Bush on the war in Iraq. Forget about Kerry’s contradictory positions on Iraq, or his otherworldly statements on Meet the Press. Put aside the sheer chutzpah of this desperate tactic to (now) take a focus group-tested position on this critical issue. Remember this: John Kerry was once a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee – a group uniquely positioned to review sensitive information and act as a balance to the Executive branch.

From 1993 to 2001, John Kerry missed 76% of all the scheduled meetings of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

John Kerry failed to perform his most basic duties as a Senator, but now he wants to be President. Like I said: sheer chutzpah.
Just amazing, Senator.