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President Bush Declassifies Part of Leaked Intelligence Report

At a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President Bush announced plans to declassify parts of the leaked National Intelligence Estimate. Two House Intelligence Committee members discuss the report's findings and the status of the global war on terrorism.

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    Afghanistan's president was at his side this morning at the White House, but for President Bush, Iraq was Topic A at the joint news conference. Mr. Bush was asked about the intelligence report. It concluded the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq was spreading the global terror threat.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: Some people have, you know, guessed what's in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree. I think it's naive; 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.


    Parts of the National Intelligence Estimate, a collaboration from 16 intelligence agencies, were published in major newspapers this weekend. President Bush said that move was politically motivated six weeks ahead of midterm elections.


    Now, you know what's interesting about the NIE? It was an intelligence report done last April. As I understand, the conclusions — the evidence on the conclusions reached was stopped being gathered on February — at the end of February.

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

    And so John Negroponte, the DNI, is going to declassify the document as quickly as possible. He'll declassify the key judgments for you to read yourself. And he'll do so in such a way that we'll be able to protect sources and methods that our intelligence community uses.


    That didn't go far enough for some Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.

    SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), Michigan: It's obvious that we should see the entire estimate, not just the portions, the "findings," so-called, which are just limited, but we also should see everything in that report declassified which relates to Iraq. And when the American public does see it, there's going to be further important and compelling evidence that we have got to change course in Iraq.


    Today, House Democratic leaders called for the release of another, and more recent, National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq.


    Ray talked to two members of Congress about the earlier report just before parts of it were declassified late today.

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