Bush to declassify part of Iraq intelligence report

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: USA Today, AP
Byline: n/a
Date: September 26, 2006

WASHINGTON - President Bush charged today that parts of a U.S. intelligence
report on terrorism were leaked for "political purposes" and ordered key
judgments of it declassified to let the public draw its own conclusions.

The New York Times first reported Saturday that the highly classified
National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) says that the U.S. invasion of Iraq has
helped fuel a new generation of extremists and that the overall terrorism
threat has grown since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

ON DEADLINE: Press conference, your comments

"Some people have guessed what's in the report and concluded that going into
Iraq was a mistake," Bush said. "I strongly disagree."

"I think it is naive," he said. "I think it is a mistake for people to
believe that going on the offensive against people who want to do harm
against the American people makes us less safe."

The NIE distills the thinking of senior U.S. intelligence analysts working
throughout the nation's 16 spy agencies. Its conclusions are considered to
be the voice of the U.S. intelligence community.

Bush said that he thought it was generally a "bad idea" to declassify such
documents every time there is a leak, but that it was important to set the
record straight on its contents.

"You can read it for yourself," he told reporters. "All the speculation, all
the politics."

The president said that although the report was several months old, the
leaks came in the final weeks before midterm elections "to create confusion
in the minds of the American people over the nature of the enemy."

The president rejected the idea that the Iraq war had spawned more
terrorists and had made Americans less safe. He said the United States was
not in Iraq when terrorists struck the World Trade Center, nor when suicide
bombers attacked the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen.

"To suggest that if we weren't in Iraq we would see a rosier scenario, with
fewer extremists joining the radical movement, requires us to ignore 20
years of experience," Bush said.

He said extremists use the war in Iraq as a "recruitment tool because they
understand the stakes."

"They understand what will happen to them when we defeat them in Iraq," he

Bush's decision to declassify a portion of the document followed appeals by
the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee to
release a public version of it.

Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the public discussion has given
the "false impression that the NIE focuses exclusively on Iraq and

"That is not true," Roberts said, noting that the committee has had the
report since April. "This NIE examines global terrorism in its totality."

In a letter to National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, Sen. Jay
Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the committee's top Democrat, said declassifying the
report's conclusions would provide a complete picture of the report and
"contribute greatly to the public debate" on counterterrorism policies.

Negroponte, in remarks at a dinner in Washington on Monday night, also said
the report broadly addressed the global terrorism threat, not just the
impact of Iraq. He told the audience that radicalism is being fueled by
entrenched grievances in the Arab world, the slow pace of social and
political reforms there and anti-U.S. sentiment.

In addition, he said, "the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of
terrorist operatives and jihadists."

Bush, speaking at a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid
Karzai, declined to get involved in a brewing controversy that started
during a heated weekend interview with former president Bill Clinton on the
Fox News Channel.

Clinton, asked why his administration had not done more to go after al-Qaeda
leader Osama bin Laden, responded angrily that at least he had tried. He
accused the Bush administration of holding no meetings on bin Laden in the
eight months before the 9/11 attacks.

Asked whether Clinton's remarks were factually correct, Bush said: "I'm not
going to comment on, you know, other comments. But I will comment on this:
that we're on the offense against any enemy who wants to do us harm, and we
must have the tools necessary to protect our country."