Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dems Question Premise of Key NIE Judgment

This is an example a use of the logical fallacy, the "false dilemma."

In a NIE, at that.

Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have questioned whether the recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq gave political advantage to the Bush administration by making "rapid withdrawal" of U.S. troops the only alternative military option the NIE explored.

The estimate judged that rapid withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq would "almost certainly" increase sectarian violence, intensify Sunni resistance, possibly cause the Iraqi Security Forces to dissolve and allow al-Qaeda to seek a sanctuary to plan attacks inside and outside the country. That assessment came just days before the Senate and House prepared to debate nonbinding resolutions opposing increased troop levels in Iraq. ...

At a closed briefing about the NIE on Feb. 7, several committee Democrats asked why the key judgments laid out many adverse results of rapid withdrawal while other military options -- such as the redeployment of forces discussed by the Iraq Study Group or even a buildup of U.S. troops -- were not considered. They were told at the briefing that Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte had requested that the NIE include a discussion of consequences of a coalition withdrawal.

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), a panel member, wrote Negroponte on Feb. 8: "Setting up a false choice between indefinite military involvement and a rapid, unplanned withdrawal distorts the current debate in Congress and in the country about how best to defend our national security interests in Iraq." He added that such an approach "does, however, closely align with the administration's efforts to justify an unsustainable military involvement as the only option."

Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the intelligence panel's chairman, said last week that he, too, was concerned because there was no definition for "rapid" and it was unclear why the topic had been included in the estimate. In a July 26, 2006, letter from Rockefeller and others to Negroponte, setting out questions for an NIE, the closest item was listed as: "U.S. Force Posture: In what ways is the large-scale presence of multi-national forces helping or hindering Iraqis' chances of success?"

"Nowhere did anyone ask about sudden withdrawal," Rockefeller said in an interview last week. He said he worried the new NIE "took us back to days we are trying to get away from," when the White House was accused of misusing intelligence.

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