Sunday, September 24, 2006

White House Takes Issue With Intelligence Assessment

WASHINGTON --The White House on Sunday sharply disagreed with a new U.S. intelligence assessment that the war in Iraq is encouraging global terrorism, as Bush administration officials stressed that anti-American fervor in the Muslim world began long before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Peter Watkins, a White House spokesman, declined to talk specifically about the National Intelligence Estimate, a classified analysis that represents a consensus perspective of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

The highly classified report, delivered to policymakers in April, is the first of its kind since the start of the Iraq war in March 2003. In it, the agencies concluded that the war has only worsened the U.S. effort to defeat global terrorism. They said that the war is spreading radicalism from Iraq throughout the Middle East and that the longer it continues, the more likely it is that it will provide fresh training grounds for future terrorist plots.

But the White House view, according to Watkins, is that much of the radical fundamentalists' deep anger at the U.S. and Israel goes back generations and cannot be linked to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

"Their hatred for freedom and liberty did not develop overnight," Watkins said. "Those seeds were planted decades ago."


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