From my years of following the issue, I am convinced that much of our intelligence is reliable. Increasingly, sources deemed doubtful are weeded out. And the emerging picture is worrisome. Which makes it all the more imperative that the United States accomplish two things. First, we must put an end to our misguided combat mission in Iraq. In heavily publicized testimony before Congress this week, Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker made clear that the military alone cannot achieve stability in Iraq. I’m convinced our combat mission there is counterproductive and diverting resources from genuine threats to the homeland. Second, we must move faster to improve the tarnished image of America abroad – the biggest recruiting tool al-Qaida has. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once famously asked if we were killing terrorists faster than they were rising up against us. The answer then was no – and a full year after his firing, the answer is still no. On Iraq. Congress’ dismal poll numbers (18 percent positive) trail even the president’s. Why? Because we are endlessly fighting – each other. The way forward is to find an exit strategy from Iraq that will garner a veto-proof, two-thirds vote in the House and Senate. A good start would be to codify the bipartisan recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, which include a surge in diplomacy in the region, direct U.S. engagement of Iran and Syria, a renewed U.S. commitment to Israeli-Arab peace and evolving the primary mission of U.S. troops into supporting and training the Iraqi military – while redeploying our combat troops out of the country by the beginning of 2008. Proposals to do so have been introduced in the House and Senate. On our eroded moral image. Still, years after the shocking images first emerged, no senior military or civilian leader has been held accountable for the atrocities at Abu Ghraib. The prison at Guantanamo remains open for business, and the House just reaffirmed a Senate resolution that no one detained at Gitmo should be moved to penitentiaries in the United States. But other terrorists like Ramzi Yousef and Zacarias Moussaoui have already been incarcerated at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colo. Surely, this option should be on the table. Here’s the bottom line: The House and Senate, under slim Democratic majorities, must lead us to higher ground. Without a tourniquet on Iraq and an improved image abroad, we increase the chances of attack here. Rep. Jane Harman, D-El Segundo, chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence. She represents the 36th Congressional District, which includes much of the South Bay.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By Jane Harman To put it bluntly, al-Qaida is back – big time. After a three-year absence from the airwaves, two Osama bin Laden videos appeared in the days leading up to this week’s anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb (North Africa) claimed responsibility for a weekend car bombing in Algiers. Arrests last week of alleged al-Qaida operatives in Germany followed arrests in Denmark of a similar group. In both cases, the cells included foreign fighters trained in the tribal areas of Pakistan. We’ve seen this movie before – in Great Britain. And it may be coming to America soon.