With the Bush Administration reportedly conducting a major review of Afghanistan policy, a soon-to-be-finished National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan will remain classified and unavailable to the general public. Officials say that a draft version of the report paints a “grim” picture as the war approaches the seven year mark.
The documents are by default classified but with the recent conflicts certain reports have been declassified either in whole or in part. This has sometimes caused embarrassment for the administration, such as last year’s National Intelligence Estimate on Iran which directly contradicted the allegations made by the government about an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program.
We’ve already seen some examples of America’s revised policy in Afghanistan, primarily the escalation of attacks on Pakistani soil and the report that the administration would seek sole control over NATO forces in Afghanistan. But support for the ongoing conflict is already waning in several key NATO nations, most recently France, and the attacks in Pakistan have alienated President Zardari’s administration and made the US increasingly unpopular with the Pakistani people.
With 2008 already the deadliest year for US troops in Afghanistan and the civilian toll soaring, Admiral Mullen has testified that he is “not convinced we’re winning in Afghanistan.” US commanders in Afghanistan are also predicting the Taliban will launch a winter offensive, making it unsurprising that the intelligence community would describe the situation as “grim.” The unanswered and indeed unanswerable question to those of us not privy to the classified NIE is exactly how grim the report is.