Civil war, security, and economic factors demand reassessment – last NIE was done in 2004
Washington, DC–Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Senators Kennedy, Biden, Rockefeller, Levin, and Reed today sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, requesting that the intelligence community prepare an updated National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq. The last time the NIE was updated was in 2004, yet much has changed in the security, economy and political stability of Iraq. Reports from the Departments of Defense and State and statements from Administration officials on security and stability in Iraq have been troublingly inadequate in assisting Congress with measuring the success of our efforts in Iraq and the safety of our troops, and it is essential to have an objective assessment of data on Iraq from the intelligence community.
“Virtually every prediction made by Administration officials about Iraq has turned out to be wrong, and it is time to get some straight answers and sound analysis,” said Senator Reid. “This Administration can start by having intelligence community professionals update the National Intelligence Assessment on Iraq, something that has not been done since 2004. Congress is entitled to this information, and Director Negroponte should do the right thing and see that this NIE is provided in a professional and timely manner."
“President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, and Secretary Rice deny that Iraq is in a civil war. But the growing sectarian violence, the ruthless death squads, the increasingly powerful role of the privately armed militias, and the Administrations decision to send thousands more U.S. Troops to Baghdad, tell a very different story,” Senator Kennedy said. “We cannot ignore this major danger. President Bush needs to weight these facts more realistically and prepare a strategy to protect our troops who are at risk of getting caught in the middle of a sectarian civil war. Ignoring the wisdom of the intelligence community got us into trouble before in Iraq, and we cannot ignore it again. Clearly, those who forget the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them.”
Below is the text of the letter, as well as a list of quotations from the Administration demonstrating their inadequate assessment of the rise in sectarian violence in Iraq.
July 25, 2006
Ambassador John D. Negroponte
Director of National Intelligence
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511
Dear Director Negroponte,
We are writing to ask that you prepare an updated National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq.
We understand that the last NIE was prepared in the summer of 2004, two years ago. It is essential that we have an updated assessment from the intelligence community on critical political, economic and security trends. Consistent with the protection of sources and methods, we would request that an unclassified summary of the key judgments be made available to inform the Congressional and public debate, in addition to the usual classified assessment.
Reports from the Departments of Defense and State and statements from Administration officials on security and stability in Iraq have been troublingly inadequate in assisting Congress with measuring the success of our efforts in Iraq and the safety of our troops, and it is essential to have an objective assessment of data on Iraq from the intelligence community. Among other key questions, we would appreciate the intelligence community’s assessment of the following issues:
- Sectarianism: Is Iraq in or descending into a civil war? What factors will prevent or reverse deterioration of the sectarian situation?
- Security: Is Iraq succeeding in standing up effective security forces? What factors will increase the chances of that occurring? To what extent are militias providing security in Iraq? To what extent has the Government of Iraq developed and implemented a credible plan to disarm and demobilize and reintegrate militias into government security forces? To what extent is the Government of Iraq working to obtain a political commitment from political parties to ban militias?
- Terrorism: What is the threat from violent extremist-related terrorism, including Al Qaeda, in and from Iraq? What factors will address the terrorist threat?
- Political Development: Is Iraq succeeding in creating a stable and effective unity government? What is the likelihood that changes to the constitution will be made to address concerns of the Sunni community? What factors will increase the chances of that occurring?
- Economic Reconstruction: Is Iraq succeeding in rebuilding its economy and creating economic prosperity for Iraqis? What factors will increase the chances of that occurring?
- Iraq’s Future: According to press accounts, the 2004 NIE contained analysis on three possible scenarios for Iraq’s stability through the end of 2005. What are the scenarios through 2007?
- US Force Posture: In what ways is the large-scale presence of multi-national forces helping or hindering Iraqis’ chances of success?
The stakes are enormously high in Iraq, and we appreciate, in advance, the work of the intelligence community on this updated NIE.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
Senator Edward Kennedy
Senator Joseph Biden
Senator John D. Rockefeller
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Jack Reed
Policymakers in Denial on Civil War in Iraq
I know some fear the possibility that Iraq could break apart and fall into a civil war. I don’t believe these fears are justified.” President Bush, December 12, 2005
“I don’t think there is a brewing civil war in Iraq.” Secretary Rice, February 22, 2006
“I don’t buy your premise that there’s going to be a civil war.” President Bush, February 28, 2006
“I do not believe they are in a civil war today.” Secretary of Donald Rumsfeld, March 7, 2006
“They know that they lack the military strength to challenge Iraqi and coalition forces directly — so their only hope is to try and provoke a civil war….By their response over the past two weeks, Iraqis have shown the world they want a future of freedom and peace — and they will oppose a violent minority that seeks to take that future away from them by tearing their country apart.” President Bush, March 13, 2006
“While civil war is a possibility, we do not believe that it is likely at this point, and we believe that this likelihood has further decreased in the past several weeks. We are cognizant of the risks to Iraq’s future in increased sectarian violence.” Ambassador James Jeffery, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Coordinator for Iraq, March 13, 2006
“What we’ve seen is a serious effort by them to foment civil war, but I don’t think they’ve been successful…” Vice President Cheney, March 19, 2006
“The terrorists are determined to stoke sectarian tension and are attempting to spark a civil war. But despite the many acts of violence and provocation, the vast majority of Iraqis have shown that they want their country to remain whole and free of ethnic conflict." Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, March 19, 2006
“And now the terrorists and former regime elements are doing the same — they’re trying to set off a civil war through acts of sectarian violence.” President Bush, March 28, 2006
“I’m not going to get into the debate as to semantics as to what is or is not a civil war. People can call whatever they want what’s going on there … I don’t think a full-fledged civil war will take hold of the country myself.” Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, April 13, 2006
Response to question on whether civil war will occur and whether the U.S has contingences for soldiers if civil war occurs:
“I don’t think the scenario that you have described is going to happen, but life’s filled with things you don’t think are going to happen.” Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld , May 4, 2006
“There certainly has been an upsurge in sectarian violence; there’s no question but that they’re trying to incite a civil war. And they have been for a long time, and they have failed so far — the enemy.” Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, July 12, 2006
“I do not believe that what’s happening could be described . . . as a civil war. But there is significant sectarian violence, there’s no question about that." Ambassador Khalilzad, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, July 12, 2006