Washington, DC — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today sent the following letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, urging the Republican leader to join in calling for the authors of the recently-leaked National Intelligence Estimate–which reportedly concludes the war in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism–to provide all Senators with a classified briefing on the conclusions of their report. In the fourth year of war in Iraq, it is critical that the Congress ensure America has the tough and smart policies needed to best defend this country and to better fight the war on terror, policies that must be based on a full and accurate understanding of the true conditions on the ground in Iraq and the global effects of failed policies in that country.
The text of the letter is below.
September 26, 2006
Senator William H. Frist
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 205010
Dear Senator Frist:
This weekend the media described an important April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) analyzing trends in global terrorism. The NIE was prepared by the 16 agencies that comprise the U.S. intelligence community and represents our government’s most authoritative assessment of this issue. These public accounts indicate the NIE made a number of key judgments about the Administration’s efforts in the war on terror, including a conclusion that the war in Iraq, rather than stemming the growth of terrorism, has helped fuel its spread across the globe.
While such a judgment would be consistent with views I have heard expressed in many counterterrorism and Iraq briefings, the White House has said the media coverage of the NIE “is not representative of the complete document.” Director of National Intelligence Negroponte also issued a statement that “viewing [the conclusions of the Intelligence Community] through the narrow prism of a fraction of judgments distorts the broad framework they create.”
In light of the significance of the issues covered by the NIE and the apparent differences over what it says, I think it is important that we work together to make this information available to members and the American public so they can judge for themselves. Therefore, I ask that you join with me to request that the authors of this assessment provide all Senators a classified briefing this week.
In addition, as you know, the Administration has previously declassified numerous intelligence products when it has been in the public interest to do so and it can be done without harming sources and methods. I believe both conditions apply with respect to all or nearly all of the text of this NIE. I also hope, therefore, that you will add your voice to the growing chorus of Senators calling for the entire NIE to be declassified so that this important public debate can be based on the facts.