I wonder if John Kerry is preparing for tomorrow’s debate by reading the New York Times and Washington Post. Start with the Times, which contradicts both Bush and Allawi by documenting 2,368 insurgent attacks throuhgout Iraq over the past 30 days (including this nifty map suitable as a visual aid during the debate).
Then there’s Walter Pincus and Robin Wright’s story in the Post featuring our brightest intelligence professionals discussing Bush’s mess in that unfortunate country:
A growing number of career professionals within national security agencies believe the situation in Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence officials at the CIA and departments of state and defense.
People at the CIA ”are mad at the policy in Iraq because it’s a disaster, and they’re digging the hole deeper and deeper and deeper,” said one former intelligence officer who maintains contact with CIA officials. ”There’s no obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments.”
”Things are definitely not improving,” said one US government official who reads the intelligence analyses on Iraq.
“It is getting worse,” agreed an Army staff officer who served in Iraq and stays in touch with comrades in Baghdad through e-mail. “It just seems there is a lot of pessimism flowing out of theater now. There are things going on that are unbelievable to me. They have infiltrators conducting attacks in the Green Zone. That was not the case a year ago.”
One official involved in evaluating the July document said the NIC, which advises the director of central intelligence, decided not to include a more rosy scenario “because it looked so unreal.”
As for a war between the CIA and White House, said one intelligence expert with contacts at the CIA, the State Department and the Pentagon, “There’s a real war going on here that’s not just” the CIA against the administration on Iraq “but the State Department and the military” as well.
“Everyone says Iraq certainly has turned out to be more intense than expected, especially the intensity of nationalism on the part of the Iraqi people,” said Steven Metz, chairman of the regional strategy and planning department at the U.S. Army War College.
Reports from Iraq have made one Army staff officer question whether adequate progress is being made there.
“They keep telling us that Iraqi security forces are the exit strategy, but what I hear from the ground is that they aren’t working,” he said. “There’s a feeling that Iraqi security forces are in cahoots with the insurgents and the general public to get the occupiers out.”
He added: “I hope I’m wrong.”