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Intelligence Report Is Pessimistic About Iraq

A U.S. official says the classified estimate found that, at best, stability would be tenuous.

September 16, 2004|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A highly classified National Intelligence Estimate assembled by some of the government's most senior analysts this summer provides a pessimistic assessment about the future security and stability of Iraq.

The National Intelligence Council looked at the political, economic and security situation and determined that, at best, stability would be tenuous, a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said late Wednesday.

At worst, the official said, were "trend lines that would point to a civil war." The official said it "would be fair" to call the document "pessimistic."

The estimate, prepared for President Bush, contrasts with public comments in which Bush and his senior aides have spoken optimistically about the prospects for a peaceful and free Iraq.

"We're making progress on the ground," the president said at his Texas ranch late last month.

The intelligence estimate, which is reportedly about 50 pages long, covers the period between July and the end of 2005.

The latest assessment was undertaken by the National Intelligence Council, a group of senior intelligence officials.

Acting CIA Director John E. McLaughlin and the leaders of other intelligence agencies have approved it.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment Wednesday night, and a National Security Council spokesman could not be reached.

The document was first reported by the New York Times on its website Wednesday.

It is the first formal assessment of Iraq since the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

A review of that estimate released this summer by the Senate Intelligence Committee found widespread intelligence failures that led to faulty assumptions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

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