Washington, DC — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, and Senator Charles Schumer today sent the following letter to President Bush, urging him to quickly complete and release an updated National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. While the President has repeatedly told the American people that we are winning the war on terror, the three pages of the NIE declassified on Tuesday make clear that his failed policy in Iraq is making terrorism worse.
The American people deserve honest answers about a war America’s intelligence community has concluded has made America less secure. Recent press reports suggest that a critically- important updated National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq is being unduly delayed. To ensure the American people get the real security they deserve, Democrats are fighting to take America in a new direction.
The text of the letter is below.
September 28, 2006
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are growing increasingly concerned about reports that your Administration is withholding important information about the war in Iraq from the American public. In order to succeed in Iraq and the war on terror, the Congress and the American people need and deserve the truth. We received an important part of the truth this week when you decided to declassify a portion of the intelligence community’s National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism. Congress requested a similar intelligence assessment on Iraq nearly three months ago. Given the stakes in Iraq, we believe the American people deserve to see the results of this assessment as soon as possible.
The need to provide Congress and the American people with an objective, non-partisan assessment is particularly urgent given that your Administration continues to misstate the facts. Just this week, we learned from our intelligence agencies and some of our senior military leaders that your Administration’s course is failing in Iraq, is worsening the terror threat globally, and is making America less secure – all direct contradictions of oft-repeated claims by senior Administration officials.
For example, earlier this month you said, “Five years after September 11th, 2001, America is safer — and America is winning the war on terror.” However, Major General John Batiste, the former commander of the First Infantry Division in Iraq, told Congress this week, “…America [is] arguably less safe now than it was on 9/11. If we had seriously laid out and considered the full range of requirements for the war in Iraq, we would likely have taken a different course of action which would have maintained a clear focus on our main effort in Afghanistan, not fueled Islamic fundamentalism across the globe, and not created more enemies than there were insurgents.”
Moreover, far from winning the war on terror, our nation’s intelligence agencies concluded in their most authoritative assessment that the terror threat has grown on your watch and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Quoting from that report, “We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.”
Your Administration has also repeatedly asserted that our efforts in the war on terror are directly helped by our efforts in Iraq. However, our intelligence community has concluded just the opposite. According to their assessment, the war in Iraq is one of the main “underlying factors fueling the spread of the [Jihadist] movement.” The assessment goes on to say, “The Iraq conflict has become the ’cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”
At the same time our intelligence community has concluded the Administration’s course in the war on terror is failing, it is clear that your Administration’s stay the course policy in Iraq is not producing the results we would all like to see. Attacks on U.S. forces are at their highest levels since the start of the war. Iraqi civilians are being killed in record numbers and the United Nations recently concluded that all the conditions for a civil war now exist.
That is why we believe that now more than ever our troops and the American people deserve an objective, non-partisan, clear-eyed assessment of the situation in Iraq. The National Intelligence Estimate we requested nearly three months ago would provide just that kind of assessment. We hope that news accounts indicating your Administration is unduly delaying the completion of this report until after the elections are untrue.
We urge you to expedite the completion and release of this report without any further delay. Our troops and the American people deserve no less.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin
Senator Charles Schumer