The New York Times reported in 2004 that a classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq laid out three possible scenarios for the future of that country. The most favorable outcome warned of continuing instability while the worst case scenario predicted a civil war. At the time, Bush casually dismissed the dire predictions, claiming the CIA was “just guessing as to what the conditions might be like.”
Despite the fact that the intelligence community’s predictions have been largely vindicated by the events in Iraq over the past two years, the Bush administration has been wary of returning to the CIA to ask for another NIE. Last Friday, Harper’s Ken Silverstein reported why there’s been a delay:
[S]ome senior figures at the CIA, along with a number of Iraq analysts, have been pushing to produce a new NIE. They’ve been stonewalled, however, by John Negroponte, the administration’s Director of National Intelligence, who knows that any honest take on the situation would produce an NIE even more pessimistic than the 2004 version. That could create problems on the Hill and, if it is leaked as the last one was, with the public as well.
Today, a group of Senators led by Harry Reid called for the development of a new NIE:
Virtually every prediction made by Administration officials about Iraq has turned out to be wrong, and it is time to get some straight answers and sound analysis. This Administration can start by having intelligence community professionals update the National Intelligence Assessment on Iraq, something that has not been done since 2004. Congress is entitled to this information, and Director Negroponte should do the right thing and see that this NIE is provided in a professional and timely manner.
Click HERE to see a copy of the letter sent to Negroponte.