Intelligence agencies warned about growing local insurgency in late 2003

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Knight Ridder reports that "U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the White House beginning more than two years ago that the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war, according to former senior intelligence officials who helped craft the reports."

This is in stark contrast to public statements made by the Bush administration. In his November 1 radio address President Bush said "Some of the killers behind these attacks are loyalists of the Saddam regime who seek to regain power and who resent Iraq's new freedoms. Others are foreigners who have traveled to Iraq to spread fear and chaos. ... The terrorists and the Baathists hope to weaken our will. Our will cannot be shaken."

In a May 2005 interview Vice President Cheney said "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Accoding to Robert Hutchings, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005, and now diplomat in residence at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, there was a "steady stream" of intelligence reports warning Bush and his administration that the insurgency was intensifying and expanding, including a major study, called a National Intelligence Estimate, which was completed in October 2003.

Hutchings said that from early 2003 on the intelligence reports reflected that there were "signs of incipient civil war".

"Frankly, senior officials simply weren't ready to pay attention to analysis that didn't conform to their own optimistic scenarios," Hutchings told Knight Ridder.

The office of Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte declined Tuesday to comment on the Knight Ridder article.