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[casi] CIA has a bleak analysis of Iraq

Posted on Wed, Nov. 12, 2003

CIA has a bleak analysis of Iraq

A report found more civilians there are supporting the
resistance. It conflicts with upbeat public

By Jonathan S. Landay
Inquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - A new, top-secret CIA report from Iraq
warns that growing numbers of Iraqis are concluding
the U.S.-led coalition can be defeated and are
supporting the insurgents.

The report paints a bleak picture of the political and
security situation in Iraq and cautions that the
U.S.-led drive to rebuild the country as a democracy
could collapse unless corrective actions are taken

L. Paul Bremer, leader of the Coalition Provisional
Authority in Iraq, who arrived unexpectedly in
Washington for strategy sessions yesterday,
essentially endorsed the CIA's findings, a senior
administration official said.

The report's bleak tone and Bremer's private
endorsement differ sharply with the upbeat public
assessments that President Bush, his chief aides, and
even Bremer are giving as part of an aggressive
publicity campaign aimed at countering rising
anxieties over increasing U.S. casualties in Iraq.

Two senior administration officials, who spoke on
condition of anonymity because the document is
classified, described the report's findings in broad
terms but did not detail any recommendations.

The report landed on the desks of senior U.S.
officials on Monday. Disclosures on the report's
findings suggested senior policymakers want to make
sure the assessment reaches Bush.

Some senior policymakers have expressed frustration in
efforts to provide Bush with more somber analyses of
the situation in Iraq than the optimistic views
presented by Vice President Cheney, Secretary of
Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and other hard-liners.

The CIA analysis suggests U.S. policy in Iraq has
reached a turning point, as the Bush administration
moves to escalate the war against the guerrillas and
accelerate the transfer of political power to Iraqis.

Both options are potentially risky.

An escalation of the military campaign could cause
more civilian casualties and drive more Iraqis to the
insurgents' side.

At the same time, the CIA assessment warns that none
of the postwar Iraqi political institutions and
leaders have shown an ability to govern the country or
even preside over drafting a constitution or holding
an election.

Upon his arrival in Washington yesterday, Bremer went
directly into a White House meeting with Rumsfeld,
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, national security
adviser Condoleezza Rice, and other key officials.

The meeting focused on how to break the political
logjam in Baghdad and speed planning for the nation's

Bremer's hurried flight to Washington caught his staff
by surprise and forced him to cancel a meeting with
Poland's prime minister, Leszek Miller.

Some U.S. officials believe key members of the
25-member Iraqi Governing Council are stalling their
work in hopes of winning concessions from U.S. leaders
under political pressure to turn over power to the

U.S. officials have become deeply frustrated with not
only the inaction by the Iraqi council, but also with
its nepotism and infighting. The U.S.-appointed body
of Iraqi politicians has limited powers to govern
Iraq. The council also is in charge of overseeing the
drafting of a constitution.

The White House meeting also discussed moves to speed
recruiting for Iraqi security forces, including a new

More than 118,000 Iraqis are serving in the army,
police and other forces, and U.S. officials aim to
raise the total to more than 220,000 in 2004.

Accelerating a restoration of Iraqi self-rule,
speeding security-force recruiting, and intensifying a
U.S. counterinsurgency campaign form the crux of a new
U.S. strategy to crush the insurgents, consolidate the
support of ordinary Iraqis for democracy-building
efforts, and reduce the U.S. military presence.

The senior administration officials said the CIA
assessment was composed by the CIA station chief in
Baghdad, a veteran operations officer who oversees
more than 275 officers.

The report is known as an AARDWOLF, a special field
assessment that is usually requested by senior
policymakers in Washington at important junctures in
overseas crises.

The report, one official said, warned that aggressive
U.S. counterinsurgency tactics could induce more
Iraqis to join the guerrilla campaign that has killed
at least 153 U.S. soldiers - 35 of them this month -
since Bush declared an end to major combat operations
on May 1.

The report also added to concerns about the governing
council. The group, which is dominated by former Iraqi
exiles with little popular support, has failed to
convince ordinary Iraqis that the occupation is
temporary and will lead to a unified, sovereign Iraq,
the report said.

Bremer has been formulating ways "in which the
Governing Council can evolve into a decision-making
body to move the constitutional process along," a
third senior U.S. official said, also on condition of

He denied reports that the Bush administration is
considering replacing the council.

One senior administration official said the report
warned that the coalition's inability to crush the
insurgents is convincing growing numbers of Iraqis
that the occupation can be defeated, bolstering
support for the insurgents.

The CIA report raised the concern that majority Shiite
Muslims could begin joining minority Sunnis in turning
against the occupation.

Friction between occupation authorities and the
Shiites has been intensifying, fueled by events such
as a U.S. soldier's killing of the mayor of Sadr City,
a massive Shiite slum in Baghdad, this week.

In another finding, the CIA report said there was no
way to completely seal Iraq's borders with Syria,
Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to
infiltration by foreign Islamic extremists bent on
killing Americans.

Contact reporter Jonathan Landay at This article contains
information from the Associated Press.

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