Release the whole NIE or admit its truth, Mr. Bush

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Tell me something I don't know. Three major newspapers reported over the weekend that a classified National Intelligence Estimate written five months ago shows Islamic radicalism is flowering worldwide. And we planted the seed that gave rise to this boomerang of a crop by invading Iraq. An NIE is a consensus among the nation's 16 different spy agencies.

Also over the weekend former President Clinton blurted out while sparring with Fox News host Chris Wallace about the network's right-wing bias that he (Clinton) came closer to killing Osama bin Laden using covert strategy than President Bush has come.

We've known for years that the Bush administration lied about Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. Saddam's WMD possession was, every true-blooded American should recall, the main reason former Secretary of State Colin Powell used at the United Nations as he tried, largely unsuccessfully, to build international support for invading Iraq.

And yet we also learned last week that the "president's approval rating rose among registered voters from 41 percent in late June to 44 percent in the new poll, with 54 percent disapproving. In January, 45 percent of registered voters expressed approval of his job performance. The approval rating hit 39 percent at its low point in April."

Why are Americans so forgiving of this president's performance on national security? The true experts (the spies who wrote the NIE) tell us Bush failed in his attempt to make the country safer while simultaneously making the world more dangerous via his bungled invasion.

Admittedly, it's a bit unfair to compare poll numbers that came out last week with a story (the NIE) that ran several days later. But Americans should know better than to buy into Bush's latest round of self-promotional speeches. In two weeks on the stump, Bush has tried to link Iraq to the broader war on terrorism and has defended his national security record. The NIE confirms the contrary view. But what the NIE contains is not new. It's been widely reported for more than a year that Iraq has become a breeding ground for radical Islamic terrorists.

The White House issued a statement in response to the leaked reports on the NIE, saying the published reports were "not representative" of the complete document. OK, then! Release the whole thing. Otherwise, admit we were a whole lot safer in 2000, with Bill Clinton chasing Osama bin Laden, than we are now.