Brief Reactions: IS magically multiplies?

This morning the BBC explained that the CIA has just revised its estimates about the fighting strength of IS (aka ISIS aka ISL). They suddenly have three times more fighters than we first thought. I can think of very few kind ways to process this news.

(1) Given that the Agency’s track record of periodic and stunning failures (Nairobi bombing, 9/11, a nuclear Pakistan), perhaps this is another admission of rank incompetence.

(2) President Obama essentially declares war — or rather, direct military action (war would require a real vote in Congress) — on IS. A few days later the CIA says, “Oops, there are three times the number of militant soldiers than we first thought”. Even if this claim were true, it would be hard to escape the impression that the administration is ginning up evidence to justify an expanded war.

I would prefer to believe the first option. Unfortunately, after the utterly dishonest handling of the chemical weapons claims last fall, I find it difficult to reject the second option as mere paranoia.

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