US Intel Says Iraq Outlook Is Bleak

CNN covered this story, which broke late last night. Apparently, the White House received a report in July that indicated that things in Iraq weren't going quite as planned:

The Bush administration has sought to downplay the significance of a U.S. intelligence forecast painting a pessimistic picture for the future of Iraq, insisting that predictions of difficulties ahead -- including the possibility of civil war -- were not a surprise.

What?! The Bush administration is "downplaying the significance" of intelligence? That'd be like them saying they weren't given ample warning about possible attacks on America by Al-Qa'eda. I find this line of thought scurrilous and think these folks at CNN are anything but patriots. Perhaps they should take some news lessons from FoxNews! The article continued, however:

Sources have confirmed to CNN that a National Intelligence Estimate was sent to the White House in July with a classified warning predicting the best case for Iraq was "tenuous stability" and the worst case was civil war.

The Bush administration, however, continues to argue publicly the U.S. is making good progress in Iraq, with the President saying Thursday that "freedom is on the march" in Iraq, citing scheduled elections in January next year.

But the intelligence report raises serious questions about Iraq's ability to achieve political solutions in the next year or two, noting the country's "limited experience with representative government" and "history of violence".

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a report to the U.N. Security Council last week, said the persistent violence in Iraq would make it difficult to hold elections in January.

"I think that anybody that thinks that you can hold elections in the Sunni Triangle by the end of January is really smoking something," military historian Frank Fukuyama said.

And the Pentagon also admits the insurgency in Iraq is growing in both size and sophistication, and as a result, the number of U.S. war dead -- now over 1,025 -- is climbing at a faster rate than any time since major combat ended.

Sounds to me like this is a serious report, raising serious questions about whether peace is possible in Iraq. Surely some government officials will be able to put a positive spin on this thing:

A U.S. government official familiar with the report conceded the estimate "does not offer a great deal of optimism" -- and that it concludes the "outlook is not very positive."

A senior Defense Department official said the estimate was "one view," and that it also concluded that "Iraq will be challenged in the next year or two in achieving political solutions."

Well, as for the not-so-positive spin, John Kerry took a stab at it Thursday, speaking to the same National Guard crowd Bush addressed on tuesday:

"The hard truth is that our president has made serious mistakes in taking us to war with Iraq," Kerry told members of the National Guard Association of the United States meeting in Las Vegas.

"He was wrong to rush to war without giving the inspectors the time to do their job and bring allies to our side. He was wrong to rush to war without understanding and planning for the postwar in Iraq."

Kerry also made a direct connection between the war in Iraq and America's homeland security.

He accused Bush of weakening homeland security by overextending the National Guard and Reserve.

"Many of you are our first responders here at home -- firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians," Kerry told the group.

"To take you out of your communities is also to take down some of our critical ability of defense and response. I don't believe that's the best way to protect America."

Kerry said that if elected he would create a standing joint task force, headed by a general from the National Guard, to prepare and execute "a coordinated strategy for homeland security, working with the states and the federal government to react in times of crisis."

I think he makes a very valid point; national guardsmen are supposed to be our nation's first line of defense. How are they to defend us when they are overseas, fighting losing battles in foreign countries? Wars we ourselves initiated, under false pretense, which got no support from the UN Council. Kerry wasn't done yet:

"The president stood right here where I'm standing and didn't acknowledge that more than 1,000 men and women have lost their lives in Iraq," Kerry said. "He didn't tell you that with each passing day, we're seeing more chaos, more violence, indiscriminate killings."

Kerry said Bush's "own intelligence officials have warned him for weeks that the mission in Iraq is in serious trouble," referring to a National Intelligence Estimate that paints a bleak picture of Iraq's future, including the possibility of civil war. (Iraq intelligence report)

Kerry said "that is the truth, as hard as it is to bear."

"I believe you deserve a president who isn't going to gild that truth or gild our national security with politics, who is not going to ignore his own intelligence, who isn't going to live in a different world of spin, who will give the American people the truth, not a fantasy world of spin ... ," Kerry said.

Getting back to the UN, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today had some very strong words regarding our invasion of Iraq:

Britain today rejected a claim by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the U.S.-led Iraq war was "illegal" because Washington and its coalition allies never got Security Council backing for the invasion.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, reminded reporters that Britain's attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, had found before the war that Britain was acting legally, citing three U.N. resolutions justified the use of force against Iraq.

Britain was a leading supporter of the U.S.-led invasion.

Annan told British Broadcasting Corp. radio on Wednesday that the U.S.-led invasion did not conform to the United Nations charter.

The U.N. Charter allows nations to take military action with Security Council approval as an explicit enforcement action, such as during the Korean War and the 1991 Gulf War. But in 2003, in the buildup to the Iraq war, the United States dropped an attempt to get a Security Council resolution approving the invasion when it became clear it would not pass.

"I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time - without U.N. approval and much broader support from the international community," Annan told the BBC.

Ladies and gentlemen, the leader of the world's most important council(depending on who you ask anyway) has indicated on many occasions that he didn't agree with our war in Iraq. Today, he went so far as to indicate that it was "illegal". Anyone who still thought this hastily-lead war was a good idea, anyone who still supports President Bush on this issue is obviously blinded by the Right. What a situation we've gotten ourselves(or been duped) into.
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