- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

2:35 p.m.

President Bush today said it is naive and a mistake to think that the war in Iraq has worsened terrorism, as a key portion of a national intelligence assessment suggests.

“Some people have guessed what’s in the report and concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree,” Mr. Bush said during a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

He asserted that portions of the classified report were leaked for political purposes, referring to the Nov. 7 midterm elections.

Mr. Bush announced that he had instructed National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte to declassify those parts of the report that don’t compromise national security or intelligence-gathering methods.

Portions of the document that have been leaked suggest that the threat of terrorism has grown worse since the September 11 terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan, in part because of the war in Iraq.

Democrats have used the report — written by analysts from a range of U.S. intelligence branches — to bolster their criticism of Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy.

The administration does not dispute the findings but says only part of the report was leaked — and the leaked part does not tell the full story.

Mr. Negroponte “is going to declassify the document as quickly as possible — declassify the key judgments for you to read yourself,” the president told reporters in the East Room of the White House.

Using a portion of the report to attack his Iraq policy and suggest it has fanned more terrorism is “naive,” Mr. Bush asserted.

He said the full report shows “that, because of our successes against the leadership of al Qaeda, the enemy is becoming more diffuse and independent.”

Both the chairman and the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee had urged the White House to release the material.

“You read it for yourself. Stop all this speculation,” Mr. Bush said.

Tomorrow, Mr. Bush and Mr. Karzai will be joined by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for dinner at the White House.

Gen. Karzai and Gen. Musharraf have been at odds recently over each country’s efforts to hunt terrorists and stop them from crossing their shared border, especially in tribal areas.

“You know, it’ll be interesting for me to watch the body language of these two leaders to determine how tense things are,” Mr. Bush said.

“We will back any move, any deal, that will deny terrorism a sanctuary” along the border, the Afghan leader said.

Mr. Bush said it was in the interests of both Mr. Karzai and Mr. Musharraf, as well as the United States, to see Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders brought to justice.

“Our interests coincide,” Mr. Bush said.

In addition to the war on terrorism, Mr. Bush and Mr. Karzai said they talked about a range of issues that concern both countries — including rising Taliban violence and an unprecedented narcotics trade.

“I’m very grateful, Mr. President, to you and the American people for all that you have done for Afghanistan for the last four and a half years,” Mr. Karzai said.

The Pakistani president, here last week to see Mr. Bush, said extremist schools accounted for only about 5 percent of the schools in his country. He acknowledged that “we are moving slowly” against them.



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