The National Intelligence Council believes Iraq could be headed for civil war before the end of 2005, contradicting Bush's assertions that the situation there is getting better.
The National Intelligence Council presented President Bush this summer with several pessimistic scenarios regarding the security situation in Iraq, including the possibility of a civil war there before the end of 2005.It will be interesting to see how Rove and his minions try to spin this, as it confirms what Kerry's been saying for a while now. Kerry had better take advantage of this and hammer it repeatedly along the campaign trail and in the debates.
In a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate, the council looked at the political, economic and security situation in the war-torn country and determined that — at best — stability in Iraq would be tenuous, a U.S. official said late Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
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."
This latest assessment was performed by the National Intelligence Council, a group of senior intelligence officials that provides long-term strategic thinking for the entire U.S. intelligence community.
Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin and the leaders of the other intelligence agencies approved the intelligence document, which runs about 50 pages.
The estimate appears to differ from the public comments of Bush and his senior aides who speak more optimistically about the prospects for a peaceful and free Iraq. "We're making progress on the ground," Bush said at his Texas ranch late last month.
Disclosure of the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq came the same day that Senate Republicans and Democrats denounced the Bush administration's slow progress in rebuilding Iraq, saying the risks of failure are great if it doesn't act with greater urgency.
"It's beyond pitiful, it's beyond embarrassing, it's now in the zone of dangerous," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., referring to figures showing only about 6 percent of the reconstruction money approved by Congress last year has been spent.
Hagel, Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and other committee members have long argued — even before the war — that administration plans for rebuilding Iraq were inadequate and based on overly optimistic assumptions that Americans would be greeted as liberators.
But the criticism from the panel's top Republicans had an extra sting coming less than seven weeks before the U.S. presidential election in which Bush's handling of the war is a top issue.
"Our committee heard blindly optimistic people from the administration prior to the war and people outside the administration — what I call the 'dancing in the street crowd' — that we just simply will be greeted with open arms," Lugar said. "The nonsense of all of that is apparent. The lack of planning is apparent."