Bush to declassify parts of key intel report President says NIE leak was political, denies Iraq has worsened terrorism
MSNBC News Services
WASHINGTON - President Bush on Tuesday announced that he will declassify parts of the National Intelligence Estimate, which reportedly concluded that the war with Iraq has worsened terrorism.
â€œSome people have guessed whatâ€™s in the report and concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree,â€ Bush said, referring to a New York Times report over the weekend that described what it said were conclusions from the classified analysis made last April.
The key judgments from the analysis will be released â€œas quickly as possible,â€ he added.
Bush said he had directed National Intelligence Director John Negroponte to declassify those parts of the report that donâ€™t compromise national security.
â€œYou read it for yourself. Stop all this speculation,â€ Bush told a reporter who asked about the analysis.
The announcement came at a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai after the two met for private talks at the White House.
Bush asserted that portions of the classified report that had been leaked were done so for political purposes, referring to the Nov. 7 midterm elections.
Portions of the document that have been leaked suggest that the threat of terrorism has grown worse since the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the war in Afghanistan, due in part to the war in Iraq.
Only part of the story
Democrats have used the report to bolster their criticism of Bushâ€™s Iraq policy. The administration has claimed only part of the report was leaked and does not tell the full story.
Negroponte â€œis going to declassify the document as quickly as possible â€” declassify the key judgments for you to read yourself,â€ Bush told reporters in the East Room. â€œAnd heâ€™ll do so in such a way that weâ€™ll be able to protect sources and methods ... that our intelligence community uses.â€
Bush said the full report shows â€œthat, because of our successes against the leadership of al-Qaida, the enemy is becoming more diffuse and independent.â€
Both the chairman and the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee have urged the White House to release the material.
Using a portion of the report to attack his Iraq policy and suggest it has fanned more terrorism is â€œnaive,â€ Bush said.
â€œI think itâ€™s a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe,â€ he said.
The bilateral meeting was a prelude to joint talks with Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf Wednesday at the White House to discuss fighting terrorism in a region where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.
The two central Asian presidents have been at odds recently over each countryâ€™s efforts to hunt terrorists and to stop them from crossing their shared border, especially in tribal areas.
â€œYou know, itâ€™ll be interesting for me to watch the body language of these two leaders to determine how tense things are,â€ Bush said.
â€œIâ€™ll be good,â€ Karzai said.
â€œWe will back any move, any deal, that will deny terrorism a sanctuaryâ€ along the border, the Afghan leader added.
Bush said that it was in the interests of both Karzai and Musharraf, as well as in the interests of the United States, to see Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders brought to justice.
Even before the meetings, some tensions have surfaced among the three leaders in the last week.
Bush in a television interview said he would issue an order to go after bin Laden if there was firm intelligence about his location, including inside Pakistan. That prompted Musharraf to respond that Pakistan would handle such a situation itself.
And Karzai on Monday called on Musharraf to close extremist schools in Pakistan. â€œThere will not be an end to terrorism unless we remove the sources of hatred in madrassas and the training grounds,â€ Karzai said.
More money for Afghanistan?
The Bush-Karzai meeting was expected to include rising Taliban violence and an unprecedented narcotics trade were also on the agenda â€” possibly along with a request for more U.S. money to stabilize Afghanistan.
Karzai said Sunday on â€œMeet the Pressâ€ that his country would be â€œheaven in less than a yearâ€ if it received the $300 billion the United States had spent in Iraq.
As it is, Karzai said at a news conference Monday that Afghanistan has $1.9 billion in reserves, up from $180 million in 2002.
And in a speech Monday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, he expressed concern â€” without elaboration â€” with â€œradical neighbors who have very dangerous ideasâ€ and said narcotics had supplanted the growing of grapes, raisins, pomegranates, almonds and other crops.
Struggling farmers need more help, he said. â€œGive us the roads and we will give you the best grapes in the world,â€ Karzai said with a smile.
Afghanistan has been suffering its heaviest insurgent attacks since the Taliban regime was toppled in late 2001 in a U.S.-led war.
U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in 2001 as a response to the Sept. 11 attacks. Since then, Afghanistan has complained that the Taliban is being sheltered on the Pakistani side of the rugged border.
Musharrafâ€™s government this month signed a deal with pro-Taliban tribesmen in the North Waziristan region that critics said may create a refuge for the Taliban and al-Qaida.
Musharraf has disputed the criticism. â€œThis treaty is not to deal with the Taliban. It is actually to fight the Taliban,â€ he said Friday.
Musharraf, speaking in New York City on Monday night, said Pakistan was being blamed unfairly for the Talibanâ€™s resurgence. He suggested that Karzai was partially at fault for disenfranchising the majority Pashtun ethnic group and warned that the Taliban cannot be defeated by military might alone.
Musharraf praised Karzai, calling him clearly the best choice to lead Afghanistan as it rebuilds after decades of war, but he also slammed Karzai for suggesting that much of the recent violence in Afghanistan was the result of cross-border attacks from militants hiding in Pakistanâ€™s tribal areas.
â€œThe sooner that President Karzai understands his own country, the better,â€ Musharraf told the Council on Foreign Relations, referring to alleged favoritism toward ethnic minorities in the Northern Alliance that fought against the largely Pashtun Taliban. â€œWe have a problem with Pashtuns feeling alienated.â€http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12913317/?GT1=8506