According to sources familiar with the document, the latest national intelligence estimate paints a bleak picture for Iraq, one that most of us have already come to know from simply following the news. The summary of information from across the intelligence community says that the situation is perilous, the U.S. has little control and the major cause of violence is not al-Qaida but fighting among Iraqis.
A long-awaited National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, presented to President Bush by the intelligence community yesterday, outlines an increasingly perilous situation in which the United States has little control and there is a strong possibility of further deterioration, according to sources familiar with the document.
In a discussion of whether Iraq has reached a state of civil war, the 90-page classified NIE comes to no conclusion and holds out prospects of improvement. But it couches glimmers of optimism in deep uncertainty about whether the Iraqi leaders will be able to transcend sectarian interests and fight against extremists, establish effective national institutions and end rampant corruption.
The document emphasizes that although al-Qaeda activities in Iraq remain a problem, they have been surpassed by Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence as the primary source of conflict and the most immediate threat to U.S. goals. Iran, which the administration has charged with supplying and directing Iraqi extremists, is mentioned but is not a focus.