Gordon Johndroe, Deputy White House Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs, provided a summary of the Aug. 2007 National Intelligence Estimate titled "Prospects for Iraq's Stability: Some Security Progress But Political Reconciliation Elusive" in an Aug. 23, 2007 statement:
"The National Intelligence Estimate's updated judgments show that our strategy has improved the security environment in Iraq, but that we still face very tough challenges ahead. While the February NIE concluded that conditions in Iraq were worsening, today's key judgments clearly show that the military's counterinsurgency strategy, fully operational since mid-summer, has begun to slow the rapidly increasing violence and patterns of that violence we have been seeing in Iraq. This change is a necessary precondition to the stability and increased political reconciliation that we all seek...
The judgments in the NIE confirm that Iraq's security forces are improving their performance and that bottom-up political engagement and security initiatives have made a difference and offer the best prospect for improved security over the next six to 12 months. The NIE does conclude that the Iraqi security forces have not improved enough to conduct major operations independent of the coalition on a sustained basis in multiple locations, and that the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] remain reliant on the coalition for important aspects of logistics and combat support...
The intelligence community also concluded that al Qaeda in Iraq remains resilient. The NIE states that, 'coalition forces, working with Iraqi forces, tribal elements and some Sunni insurgents have reduced al Qaeda in Iraq's capabilities, restricted its freedom of movement, and denied its grassroots support in some areas. However, AQI [Al-Qaeds in Iraq] retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks.' We have changed al Qaeda's trajectory in a short period of time, and we must now sustain the momentum we have already achieved against them.
Today's key judgments also confirm that Iran and Syria are still supporting and arming militant groups inside Iraq. The NIE states, and I quote, 'Iran has been intensifying aspects of its lethal support for select groups of Iraqi Shia militants, particular the JAM [Jaysh al-Mahdi or 'Mahdi Army'].' Most troublesome, the use of EFPs [Explosively Formed Penetrators] supplied by Iran has risen dramatically, and it is taking an increasing toll on our troops. While Syria has taken some action, it has done so because of the threat to its own stability, and has begun to support non-al Qaeda in Iraq groups to increase its influence inside Iraq."
Jonathan Karl, Senior National Security Correspondent for ABC News, provided highlights of the Jan. 2007 National Intelligence Estimate "Prospects for Iraq's Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead" in a Feb. 2, 2007 article titled "Quick Highlights of the National Intelligence Estimate Report":
"A new National Intelligence Estimate paints a grim view of the security situation in Iraq.
Highlights of the report include:
Civil War 'Civil war' accurately describes key aspects of the conflict, but the report indicates that there is clearly more than just a civil war at hand.
The report says: 'The Intelligence Community judges that the term "civil war" does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa'ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term "civil war" accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements.'
A Deteriorating Situation The situation in Iraq could grow much worse.
Events like the complete defection of Sunnis from the government or the assassination of key political and religious leaders could 'shift Iraq's trajectory from gradual decline to rapid deterioration with grave humanitarian, political, and security consequences' that could spill beyond Iraq's borders.
The Consequences of U.S. Withdrawal A rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces would have catastrophic consequence, and the Iraqi Security Forces 'would be unlikely to survive as a non-sectarian national institution.' Neighboring countries 'might intervene openly in the conflict; massive civilian casualties and forced population displacement would be probable.'
Al Qaeda would attempt to use Al-Anbar as a base to launch attacks in and outside of Iraq and Turkey may launch a military incursion into Iraq.
Iran Iran is providing 'lethal support' for Iraqi Shia groups that 'clearly intensifies the conflict in Iraq' but Iraq's neighbors are 'not likely to be a major driver of violence' in the months ahead. Iraq's sectarian conflicts were described as 'self-sustaining.'"
Mark Mazzetti, New York Times correspondent, in a Sep. 24, 2006 article "Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat," wrote on the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States":
"The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.
The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled 'Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,' it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.
An opening section of the report, 'Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,' cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.
The report 'says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,' said one American intelligence official.
More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the document's general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.
Officials with knowledge of the intelligence estimate said it avoided specific judgments about the likelihood that terrorists would once again strike on United States soil. The relationship between the Iraq war and terrorism, and the question of whether the United States is safer, have been subjects of persistent debate since the war began in 2003...
The estimate concludes that the radical Islamic movement has expanded from a core of Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups to include a new class of 'self-generating' cells inspired by Al Qaeda's leadership but without any direct connection to Osama bin Laden or his top lieutenants.
It also examines how the Internet has helped spread jihadist ideology, and how cyberspace has become a haven for terrorist operatives who no longer have geographical refuges in countries like Afghanistan."
Suzanne Malveaux, MA, and Jamie McIntyre, CNN correspondents, in a Sep. 17, 2004 "Report Finds Iraq Prospects Bleak," wrote on the 2004 National Intelligence Estimate:
"The Bush administration has sought to downplay the significance of a U.S. intelligence forecast painting a pessimistic picture for the future of Iraq, insisting that predictions of difficulties ahead -- including the possibility of civil war -- were not a surprise.
Sources have confirmed to CNN that a National Intelligence Estimate was sent to the White House in July with a classified warning predicting the best case for Iraq was 'tenuous stability' and the worst case was civil war.
The Bush administration, however, continues to argue publicly the U.S. is making good progress in Iraq, with the President saying Thursday that 'freedom is on the march' in Iraq, citing scheduled elections in January next year.
But the intelligence report raises serious questions about Iraq's ability to achieve political solutions in the next year or two, noting the country's 'limited experience with representative government' and 'history of violence'...
Spokesman for the National Security Council, Scott McCormack, Thursday described the report as 'more of an academic think piece' than a forecast...
The 50-page national intelligence estimate on Iraq, completed in July, was not prepared for President Bush but was commissioned internally within the intelligence community. It contains both classified and declassified portions.
A U.S. government official familiar with the report conceded the estimate 'does not offer a great deal of optimism' -- and that it concludes the 'outlook is not very positive.'"
[Editor's Note: The 2004 NIE had not been made publicly available as of Jan. 11, 2007]
The US Senate Select Intelligence Committee (SSIC) provides a summary of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs" in the July 7, 2004 "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq":
"...the 2002 NIE addressed all of Iraq's WMD programs and was a coordinated community judgment in which all agency views were represented and dissenting opinions were noted.
...the 2002 NIE was comprehensive, encompassing more than ten years of source reporting and analysis. The intelligence documentation provided to the Committee to support the assessments in the 2002 NIE also included the documents which were the basis for the previous decade of analytical products on Iraq's WMD programs.
...the 2002 NIE presented some new IC assessments, some of which shifted in significant ways from previous judgments regarding Iraq's WMD programs.
...the 2002 NIE was requested by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Members so that policy makers could benefit from the IC's coordinated judgment on Iraq's WMD programs while they debated authorizing military action against Iraq...
By the morning of September 12, 2002, the NIO [National Intelligence Officer] for Strategic and Nuclear Programs had received official guidance from the DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] to begin work on the NIE. The work of assembling and coordinating the NIE was divided primarily between four NIO's: the NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs was responsible for the nuclear and ballistic missile portions as well as overall management of the entire NIE, the NIO for Conventional Military Issues was responsible for the chemical warfare (CW) and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) portion, and the NIO for Science and Technology was responsible for the biological weapons (BW) portion. The NIO for Near East South Asia (NESA) was also involved in issues regarding regional reactions, interfacing with the NIO for Conventional Military Issues on the doctrine issues, and some terrorism issues, specifically whether Iraq might use terrorists to deliver WMD.
Because of the short time period to prepare the NIE, the NIOs began by drawing language from existing agency and interagency papers. The NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs disseminated a draft to the IC agencies for review on September 23, 2002 and held an all-day coordination meeting with IC analysts on September 25, 2002. The NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs disseminated a second draft which incorporated the analysts' changes and comments on September 26, 2002. Due to the compressed schedule of this NIE, the NIC did not submit the draft for peer review or to a panel of outside experts. The Vice Chairman of the NIC told Committee staff that because preparation of this NIE involved four NIOs, there was a 'virtual peer review,' and said that he did not believe that outside experts would have had substantially different views form the NIE, noting that 'I think all you could have called in is an amen chorus on this thing, because there was nobody out there with different views.' The NIE was approved by a meeting of the full NFIB on October 1, 2002 and printed that day."