- The National Intelligence Council presented
President Bush this summer with several pessimistic
scenarios regarding the security situation
in Iraq , including the possibility of a civil
war there before the end of 2005.
a highly classified National Intelligence
Estimate, the council looked at the political,
economic and security situation in the war-torn
country and determined that -- at best -- stability
in Iraq would be tenuous, a U.S. official
said late Wednesday, speaking on the condition
worst, the official said, were "trend lines
that would point to a civil war." The official
said it "would be fair" to call the document
intelligence estimate, which was prepared
for Bush, considered the window of time between
July and the end of 2005. But the official
noted that the document draws on intelligence
community assessments from January 2003, before
the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the subsequent
deteriorating security situation there.
latest assessment was performed by the National
Intelligence Council, a group of senior intelligence
officials that provides long-term strategic
thinking for the entire U.S. intelligence
CIA Director John McLaughlin and the leaders
of the other intelligence agencies approved
the intelligence document, which runs about
estimate appears to differ from the public
comments of Bush and his senior aides who
speak more optimistically about the prospects
for a peaceful and free Iraq. "We're making
progress on the ground," Bush said at his
Texas ranch late last month.
CIA spokesman declined to comment Wednesday
document was first reported by The New York
Times on its Web site Wednesday night.
is the first formal assessment of Iraq since
the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate
on the threat posed by fallen Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein .
scathing review of that estimate released
this summer by the Senate Intelligence Committee
found widespread intelligence failures that
led to faulty assumptions that Iraq had weapons
of mass destruction.
of the new National Intelligence Estimate
on Iraq came the same day that Senate Republicans
and Democrats denounced the Bush administration's
slow progress in rebuilding Iraq, saying the
risks of failure are great if it doesn't act
with greater urgency.
beyond pitiful, it's beyond embarrassing,
it's now in the zone of dangerous," said Sen.
Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record), R-Neb.,
referring to figures showing only about 6
percent of the reconstruction money approved
by Congress last year has been spent.
Foreign Relations Committee members vented
their frustrations at a hearing during which
State Department officials explained the administration's
request to divert $3.46 billion in reconstruction
funds to security and economic development.
The money was part of the $18.4 billion approved
by Congress last year, mostly for public works
request comes as heavy fighting continues
between U.S.-led forces and Iraqi insurgents,
endangering prospects for elections scheduled
know that the provision of adequate security
up front is requisite to rapid progress on
all other fronts," Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State Ron Schlicher said.
House spokesman Scott McClellan said circumstances
in Iraq have changed since last year. "It's
important that you have some flexibility."
Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind.,
and other committee members have long argued
-- even before the war -- that administration
plans for rebuilding Iraq were inadequate
and based on overly optimistic assumptions
that Americans would be greeted as liberators.
the criticism from the panel's top Republicans
had an extra sting coming less than seven
weeks before the U.S. presidential election
in which Bush's handling of the war is a top
committee heard blindly optimistic people
from the administration prior to the war and
people outside the administration -- what I
call the 'dancing in the street crowd' -- that
we just simply will be greeted with open arms,"
Lugar said. "The nonsense of all of that is
apparent. The lack of planning is apparent."
said the need to shift the reconstruction
funds was clear in July, but the administration
was slow to make the request.
Department officials stressed areas of progress
in Iraq since the United States turned over
political control of Iraq to an interim government
on June 28. They cited advances in generating
electricity, producing oil and creating jobs.
Press Writer Ken Guggenheim contributed to