May 21, 2007

Intelligence predicted violence from Hussein overthrow

By Walter Pincus, Washington Post | May 21, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Two intelligence assessments from January 2003 predicted that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and subsequent US occupation of Iraq could lead to internal violence and provide a boost to terrorists in the region, according to congressional sources and former intelligence officials.

The two assessments, titled "Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq" and "Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq," were produced by the National Intelligence Council and will be part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's Phase II report on prewar intelligence assessments about Iraq.

The assessments were delivered to the White House and to congressional intelligence committees before the war started.

The committee chairman, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV , Democrat of West Virginia, said this month that the panel had asked Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell to declassify the report for public release.

Congressional sources said the two National Intelligence Council assessments will be included in the Phase II report to be released soon.

The assessment on post-Hussein Iraq included judgments that while Iraq was unlikely to split apart, there was a significant chance that domestic groups would fight each other and that former regime military elements could merge with terrorist groups to battle any new government. It even talks of guerrilla warfare.

The second assessment discussed "political Islam being boosted and the war being exploited by terrorists and extremists elsewhere in the region," one former analyst said. It also suggested that fear of US military occupation of a Middle East country would attract foreign Islamic fighters to the area. The NIC assessments paint "a very sobering and, as it has turned out, mostly accurate picture of the aftermath of the invasion," according to a former intelligence officer familiar with the studies

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