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CIA fails to finish new intelligence assessment on Iraq

Michael Roston
Published: Monday January 22, 2007
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A blog item at the magazine Harpers yesterday indicates that the Central Intelligence Agency has failed to complete an intelligence assessment on Iraq demanded by senators.

Ken Silverstein wrote at his "Washington Babylon" blog that the CIA continues to be late in producing a "national intelligence estimate" on Iraq. NIE's are the most significant intelligence finding produced within the intelligence community, and have often been a major political football during the years of the Bush White House. Portions of an incomplete NIE on Iraq were leaked to news media organizations last fall, prompting the White House to declassify the key judgments and executive summary of the document.

Silverstein said that senators were angered at a closed door meeting last week of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence where they expected to be briefed by the National Intelligence Council on the findings of an Iraq NIE. But the official said that the CIA could not finish the assessment due to "the many demands placed upon it by the Bush Administration to help prepare the new military strategy on Iraq," and also because "not all of the relevant agencies had contributed to the NIE, which has made it impossible to put together a finished product."

The Harpers' editor says some senators believe the intelligence community's representatives "are stalling because an NIE will be bleak enough to present a significant political liability" as President Bush makes his case for an escalation of troops in Iraq.

The full blog post at Harpers can be accessed at this link.