Last week the White House refused to release the complete National Intelligence Estimate of terrorist threats in the Middle East to the public. The NIE report, compiled by analysts from 16 U.S. spy agencies, concluded that jihadist terrorists are growing in number and geographic reach in the Middle East and risks to the United States at home and abroad will grow.

Republicans have said the report provides more evidence the war in Iraq is vital in curbing terrorist actions in the area.

On the other hand, democrats have said the report shows the Iraq war has inflamed anti-U.S. feelings in the Middle East, and are pushing for the full release of the report, not just the areas declassified by President Bush.

The White House claimed releasing the entire report would jeapordize the nation’s ability to work with foreign governments, keep secret its intelligence-gathering methods and compromise those intelligence-gathering agents.

The Lantern believes it is paramount the White House release the full content of the NIE report and allow American citizens to interpret the full report.

In a democracy, the government has a responsibility to release information for public consumption in order to allow citizens to formulate decisions.

Without the full report citizens will be forced to base decisions from snippets released by the White House. Although Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Bush declassified the important sections of the NIE report, there is no way for the public to know for sure. And in the middle of such a polarized presidency, accepting anything on faith from the Bush administration is unacceptable.

The decision to invade Iraq in 2003 is a major point of contention within this country and with general elections in November, the war’s status will play a big part in who is elected.

The Lantern understands the risks the White House fears in releasing the full report. But with any government decision there are risks and rewards, and disabling the public’s ability to make a decision on such an important issue like the Iraq war without full access to available information is irresponsible.

Therefore, it is vital for Americans to be able to interpret the findings of the NIE report.