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In late July, top administration officials, including the president, received a 50-page National Intelligence Estimate from the CIA's National Intelligence Council that spelled out bleak prospects for Iraq. While the President Bush claims the CIA intelligence estimates are "just guessing," the last time such a report was prepared, he used it to justify going to war in Iraq. At least 13 times since the report was delivered top administration officials have publicly contradicted the assessment by the NIE. The failure to see reality has also sparked criticism from Republican allies in Congress.

"A classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush in late July spells out a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq…The estimate outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war, the officials said. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms."

New York Times

  • The number of Iraqi insurgents has quadrupled over the past year.
  • Insurgent attacks on U.S. forces are up 20 percent since the spring and 100 percent since last winter; last month, attacks on U.S. troops averaged 90 a day, five times as many as last winter.
  • Entire Iraqi cities, such as Fallujah and "no go" sections of the Sunni Triangle, have fallen to insurgent control. Even the highly fortified Green Zone no longer considered completely secure.
  • Reconstruction is lagging. Iraq's main power plant produces less than half the electricity it did before the start of the war.
  • There is ongoing Iraqi elections, which are scheduled for January, may have to be postponed due to the deteriorating security situation.

"We're in deep trouble in Iraq. We need more regionalization. We need more help from our allies…to say, 'Well, we just must stay the course and any of you who are questioning are just hand-wringers,' is not very responsible."

– Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), 9/19/04

"We made serious mistakes…allowing those sanctuaries [for insurgents] has contributed significantly to the difficulties that we're facing, which are very, very significant."

– Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), 9/19/04

"[The administration has done a] poor job of implementing and adjusting at times [in Iraq]…we do not need to paint a rosy scenario for the American people."

– Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), 9/19/04

"We've got to get the reconstruction money out there… $18 billion is appropriated a year ago and only $1 billion has been spent…this is incompetence in the administration."

– Sen. Richard Lugar, 9/19/04

  1. "[Iraq is] on the path to lasting democracy and liberty"
    – President George W. Bush, Aug. 5
  2. "Iraq is continuing to move forward to build a free and peaceful future."
    – White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Aug. 6
  3. "I think Iraq's got a real crack at becoming a successful free system. And of course, they have a great deal going for them… they're making solid progress."
    – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Aug. 6
  4. "It's going well [in Iraq]."
    – Donald Rumsfeld, Aug. 23
  5. "We are on a good path and we are making good progress [in Iraq]."
    – Donald Rumsfeld, Aug. 23
  6. "We've got a very good start in Iraq."
    – Donald Rumsfeld, Aug. 23
  7. "We're making progress on the ground [in Iraq]"
    – George W. Bush, Aug. 23
  8. "We're moving in the right direction [in Iraq]."
    – Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 24
  9. "The successes that have been achieved over the past period of months…[in Iraq] have been really remarkable."
    – Donald Rumsfeld, Sept. 7
  10. "I think we have made enormous progress [in Iraq]."
    – Donald Rumsfeld, Sept. 7
  11. "We continue to make progress as we help the Iraqi people move forward to a brighter future."
    – Scott McClellan, Sept. 9
  12. "I'm very encouraged about [the situation in Iraq]."
    – Donald Rumsfeld, Sept. 14
  13. "The president talks often about the progress we've made in places like…Iraq."
    – Scott McClellan, Sept. 15

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