The outlook from the White House remains sanguine, but the prospects in Iraq remain sanguinary. The CIA knows, but the White House won’t listen.
A U.S. intelligence report prepared for President Bush in July offered a gloomy outlook for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst scenario being a deterioration into civil war, government officials said Thursday.
The alarming possible future in Iraq as outlined in the classified National Intelligence Estimate is in line with the view of many analysts and members of Congress, and the Bush administration has slowly begun to shift away from an optimistic tenor.
As recently as Sept. 10, Bush said Iraqi national elections “will be held in January.” On Thursday, he said only that “national elections are scheduled for January” and noted “ongoing acts of violence” in Iraq. Still, he insisted to supporters in St. Cloud, Minn.: “This country is headed toward democracy.”
The National Intelligence Estimate, which is a compilation of views from various intelligence agencies, predicted three scenarios, from a tenuous stability to political fragmentation to the most negative assessment of civil war, officials said.
“There doesn’t seem to be much optimism,” one official said.