Sniff, sniff. What's that smell?
The office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has released its assessment of the letter between al Qaeda leaders Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Al-Zawahiri's letter offers a strategic vision for al Qa'ida's direction for Iraq and beyond, and portrays al Qa'ida's senior leadership's isolation and dependence.
Among the letter's highlights are discussions indicating:
-- The centrality of the war in Iraq for the global jihad.
-- From al Qa'ida's point of view, the war does not end with an American departure.
-- An acknowledgment of the appeal of democracy to the Iraqis.
-- The strategic vision of inevitable conflict, with a tacit recognition of current political dynamics in Iraq; with a call by al-Zawahiri for political action equal to military action.
-- The need to maintain popular support at least until jihadist rule has been established.
Admission that more than half the struggle is taking place "in the battlefield of the media."
Please excuse me for noticing just how closely the DNI's assessment of al Qaeda's strategic vision bolsters the Bush administration's justifications for "staying the course" in Iraq. Iraq is the "central front" in the war on terrorism. American departure from Iraq will not end the war. Iraqis yearn for democracy. The al Qaeda leaders fear the political progress in Iraq. The media is responsible for the success or failure of the war.
A read of the entire text reveals more of the same--what the Bush administration has been telling us about the enemy's plans and the dire consequences of troop withdrawal from Iraq has been right all along.
Does it seem a bit too coincidental that this letter is surfacing as Mister Bush's poll ratings continue to plummet?
Apparently not, according to the DNI:
The United States Government has the highest confidence in the letter's authenticity.
Hey, that's all we need to know, right? Trust them. They'd never lie to us or resort to black propaganda against American citizens, would they?
Diana Farsetta of Center for Media and Democracy posted this on Tuesday:
On September 30, the nonpartisan, investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), announced that several aspects of work done for the Department of Education by the public relations firm Ketchum violated federal law. Taxpayer-funded projects carried out by Ketchum or its subcontractors -- including Armstrong Williams and Karen Ryan -- constituted "covert propaganda" or "purely partisan activities," according to the GAO.
Yet, what the GAO has condemned, administration officials seem to consider business as usual…
…The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, the Office of Management and Budget and, more recently, the Department of Education's Inspector General have all rejected the "audience must know" standard. Instead, they argue, hidden government involvement in the news is fine, as long as government messages are "informational" and not "persuasional."
In other words, the executive branch of our government says covert propaganda aimed at U.S. citizens is just fine, as long as the propaganda is presenting us with the information the administration wants us to hear.
At first blush, the notion that this letter between Zawahari and Zarqawi is a manufactured hoax seems like utter conspiracy theory paranoia. But then again, so did the possibility that Cheney, Tenet, Bolton, and others would have cooked the intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq.
This just in from Reuters:
Al Qaeda's wing in Iraq on Thursday rejected as a fake a letter by top group leader Ayman al-Zawahri which was issued by U.S. officials this week, according to an Internet posting.
"We in Al Qaeda Organization announce that there is no truth to these claims, which are only based on the imagination of the politicians of the Black (White) House and their slaves," the group said in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site about the letter.
Who you gonna believe, the Director of National Intelligence or al Qaeda in Iraq?
Tough choice, huh?
Read more of Jeff's commentaries at Pen and Sword