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Wednesday, 27-September-2006
By JULIE MASON and MICHAEL HEDGES - WASHINGTON —President Bush declassified portions of a secret government report that warned the Iraq war was spawning new terrorists for a self-declared holy war against the United States — and that his administration's anti-terrorism efforts were succeeding.

Bush took the unusual step of releasing the federal intelligence agencies' April confidential report, designed as a five-year forecast, after leaked excerpts led critics of the Iraq war to say the invasion had intensified the terrorist threat against Americans.
The president responded Tuesday that it was naive to say that invading Iraq was wrong, because Saddam Hussein's regime posed a threat to other countries.

But his release of selected findings in the National Intelligence Estimate "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States," seemed to be a mixed bag for the president and his political opponents, cutting both ways on issues that top this year's election concerns.

"The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause célèbre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement," the report stated. It also noted that "should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight."

The report noted trends indicating an increasing threat of terrorism from a growing number of terrorists. But it also said that U.S.-led efforts have disrupted al-Qaida operations, and that efforts to install stable democratic governments should undermine terrorism.

Most of report withheld
Only four pages of text were released from the 30-page report, which is a distillation of the best information on trends in global terrorism and the implications for the United States as gleaned by analysts at 16 spy agencies. The rest of the report was withheld for national security reasons, officials said.

Frances Townsend, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, depicted the pages' contents as largely a vindication for Bush, who has said democracy is a necessary antidote to terrorism.

"The fact is they were fighting us long before we were in Iraq, we have made that point," Townsend said. "Shrinking away from them, withdrawing from the conflict, will not alleviate this problem."

Broader disclosure of the key findings did little to quiet Democratic critics of the war.

"The declassified findings ... confirm what the American people have long believed — the Bush administration's failed policies in Iraq are fueling global terrorism and making America less safe," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Bush denounces leak
Bush, who appeared at the White House with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, scoffed at the criticism.

"I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe," he said.

Bush said that an unidentified source's leak of excerpts before his disclosure Tuesday was designed to influence the elections.

"Here we are, coming down the stretch in an election campaign, and it's on the front page of your newspapers," Bush told reporters. "Isn't that interesting? Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes."

In its most gloomy judgment, the estimate said that the factors fueling an anti-American war by Islamic extremists have gained momentum. "If this trend continues, threats to U.S. interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide," it concluded.

Analysts noted that the vast majority of Muslims have rejected al-Qaida's world view.

Experts wrote in April that the deaths of al-Qaida leaders such as Abu Musab Zarqawi — who was killed several weeks later — and Osama bin Laden could at least temporarily splinter al-Qaida. But Zarqawi's death has not led to a corresponding fall in violence in Iraq, where he was running al-Qaida's operations.

The national intelligence estimate was commissioned in 2004 by David Low, soon after he took over the job of national intelligence officer for transnational threats at the National Intelligence Council. The White House has said it had no role in writing or editing the report.
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Saudi aggression warplanes have launched more than 49 airstrikes over the past hours on several residential areas across Yemen, a security official said on Sunday.
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