Well, I've read the earlier press leaks and the declassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate. Here is some of the points I've made in a recent column:
IN recent speeches, including several addresses marking the fifth anniversary of the Sept 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, US President George W Bush has argued that Iraq has become the central front in the war on terrorism.
'The security of the civilised world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq,' Mr Bush said in one speech on Aug 31. Indeed, with opinion polls showing Mr Bush's Republican Party possibly losing control of both houses of Congress in the coming mid-term elections, in large part due to public unhappiness over the war in Iraq, the president and his political allies have argued that demands for a US troop withdrawal from the country by the Democrats underscored why the centre-left party should not be trusted with the nation's security.
The central pillar of the Republican Party's campaign platform has been that the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the ouster of Saddam Hussein made America safer, not weaker. But now the leading American intelligence agencies seemed to have dropped a political bombshell just six weeks before national polls, with the leak of a classified report concluding that the war in Iraq has spawned a new wave of Islamic radicalism and increased the global threat of terrorism.
A National Intelligence Estimate, providing an assessment of terrorism trends by 16 US intelligence agencies whose contents were leaked to several newspapers, attributed a more direct role to the Iraq war in fuelling radicalism since 9/11 than that presented either in recent White House documents or in Congressional reports.
Which explains perhaps why some US lawmakers, officials and pundits after reading the report proclaim they are: 'Shocked! Shocked! Shocked!' I wonder why. In fact, in the months leading to the US invasion of Iraq, leading Middle East experts and terrorism analysts warned of that probable disastrous outcome of the military adventure in Mesopotamia.
They noted that Saddam Hussein's regime was secular in its orientation, that ousting him from power would open the Iraqi 'Pandora's Box' of ethnic, religious and tribal rivalries, especially between the Arab Sunnis and Shiites, and transform the country into a base for recruitment into radical Islamic groups and terrorist organisations.
And guess what? That is exactly what happened. Moreover, you didn't have to be an intelligence analyst with access to secret information to figure that out. If you've been following the news from Iraq since the invasion on a regular basis, you had no choice but to conclude that the US-led occupation has served as the perfect recruiting poster for Al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups.
So... here is my question: How much does it cost to produce this "Estimate?" Ten Grands? Twenty" Fifty? And here is my final points: Hey, guys, using my laptop while seating in the kitchen after eating breakfast, I would have produced the same report for you in just two or three hours for, say, half the price?