Once you read it, you realize that this presidency is so exposed it's over. On its core foreign policy responsibility since 9/11, destroying al Qaeda, the Bush administration has gone backwards for the past two or three years, bringing us full circle back to the summer of 2001. The war in Iraq has clearly, demonstrably, made us and the entire world less safe. The only reason to persist in a war led by this incompetent is because he has failed so badly that the costs of withdrawal are now deemed higher than the grueling costs of staying and losing more slowly. The desperation of those trying to find a sliver of reason in defense of the Bush-Cheney mess is evident in statements like this from Andy McCarthy:

Al Qaeda is massed in Iraq the NIE released today says al Qaeda in Iraq is the network's "most visible and capable affiliate."  (Emphasis added.)  I don't know how anyone could justify withdrawing from Iraq when we have an opportunity to inflict major damage on al Qaeda's most capable force.

Notice how McCarthy actually inverts the reasoning of the NIE. He turns al Qaeda's most capable "affiliate" into its most capable "force" within two sentences. You don't see a more clinical example of denial than that. The NIE is clear, in fact, that by far the gravest threat is from good old, OBL-led al Qaeda. Yes, al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has now the capacity to strike in the West - and may well have inspired recent terror attacks in Britain. But, of course, AQM only exists at the strength it does because of the Bush administration's bungling of the Iraq occupation. So we have failed to restrain old al Qaeda and we have empowered new al Qaeda by the Iraq occupation. We have thrown away our moral high ground; and we have lost the military low-ground. And we are being asked to follow the same leadership that did this to us into a new and unpredictable war with Iran. Are they kidding?