CRS: Bush Administration Has Intensified False Reporting On Al Qaeda Since ‘Surge’ Began

Attempting to drum up public support for the war in Iraq in July, President Bush referred to al Qaeda 95 times in a single speech, claiming the war in Iraq has become the central front in the fight against al Qaeda (AQI):

There’s also a debate about al Qaeda’s role in Iraq. Some say that Iraq is not part of the broader war on terror. They complain when I say that the al Qaeda terrorists we face in Iraq are part of the same enemy that attacked us on September the 11th. … I say that there will be a big defeat in Iraq and it will be the defeat of al Qaeda.

Echoing Bush, Gen. David Petraeus also argued that al Qaeda is “public enemy number one” in Iraq. Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner said AQI was the “principle threat” to the Iraqi people.

But in a new report, the Congressional Research Service notes that attacks from al Qaeda are only a small percentage of the violence in Iraq, criticizing the Bush administration’s statistics and noting that this false reporting on AQI has increased since Bush’s “surge” began:

Increasingly in 2007, U.S. commanders have seemed to equate AQ-I with the insurgency, even though most of the daily attacks are carried out by Iraqi Sunni insurgents.

Similarly, ret. Gen. James Jones, author of a major report on Iraqi security forces, acknowledged to Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) this week that 98 percent of violence in Iraq is “Iraqis fighting amongst Iraqis”:

BAYH: [T]wo percent or fewer of the adversaries that we’re facing in Iraq and that the Iraqis are facing in Iraq are foreign jihadis or AQI affiliates, [and] 98 percent or more are Iraqis fighting amongst Iraqis for the future of Iraq. Is that consistent with your understanding?

JONES: I think we would agree with that. Yes.

Watch it:


Washington Monthly reports that the percentage of violence in Iraq that is sourced to al Qaeda do not correspond to the Bush administration’s overestimates.

Today, the threat from al Qaeda to the U.S. comes from the terrorist network’s resurgent presence in Afghanistan and western Pakistan. Redeployment — not fearmongering — will tackle that threat.