Congressional Leaders Call for Prompt Completion of Updated National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq
Senator Edward Kennedy led the original effort in the Senate last summer to mandate in law that a new Iraq NIE be written. Regarding today's letter, Senator Kennedy said: 'It's scandalous that the intelligence community hasn't updated its National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in more than two years. It's appalling that the President didn't request it before he announced his latest escalation of the war. The opinion of the intelligence community matters, and it's essential for the Congress to have the benefit of its assessment as we debate the war in the weeks ahead. An unclassified summary of its key conclusions must also be made available to the American people.'
In the letter, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller wrote: 'The upcoming debate on Iraq is an important one for our troops and our country. The American people have a right to expect that their elected representatives will be fully informed at the outset of the debate in order to increase accountability for results and to increase the chances for a bipartisan consensus on a way forward...It is in this context that we urge that every effort be made to bring the final deliberations regarding the NIE to a swift conclusion and that the key judgments of this NIE, like the previous Iraq NIE, be made available in unclassified form.'
Full text of the letter is below:
January 23, 2007
The Honorable John D. Negroponte
Director of National Intelligence
Dear Director Negroponte:
As you know, last July members of Congress requested an updated national intelligence estimate (NIE) on Iraq. This request was subsequently supported by the full House and Senate in the Fiscal Year 2007 Department of Defense appropriations conference report and signed into law by the President (P.L. 109-289).
We were pleased that you directed the intelligence community to produce a new Iraq NIE. We also appreciate the other Iraq-related intelligence products and recent briefings and testimony you and your analysts have provided Congress. However, it now has been six months since we placed the request for the NIE and the community has yet to complete it.
We recognize the importance of taking the time needed to prepare a comprehensive, objective and thoroughly-coordinated estimate. We want your analysts to provide their best professional judgments and ensure that alternative and dissenting views are fully laid out. However, Iraq has properly been at the top of the intelligence community's list of priorities for quite some time and the community has compiled a considerable body of work on Iraq before and after our request. We believe the intelligence community has had more than sufficient time to complete this estimate.
Since we registered our request, the situation in Iraq has continued to deteriorate. U.S. troops and the Iraqi people have borne the brunt of this violence. More than 3,000 Americans have been killed in this conflict and more than 20,000 injured. According to a recent United Nations report, more than 30,000 Iraqis were killed just in 2006. In response to this deterioration and violence, the President recently announced a significant escalation of US military involvement in Iraq. The events in Iraq and here at home have triggered a debate in Congress about the merits of the President's latest proposal and whether it would improve the situation in Iraq and advance our national security interests around the world. A number of legislative actions may soon be considered, including the appropriation of additional taxpayer resources for Iraq that could push total costs for the war to well over $400 billion.
The upcoming debate on Iraq is an important one for our troops and our country. The American people have a right to expect that their elected representatives will be fully informed at the outset of the debate in order to increase accountability for results and to increase the chances for a bipartisan consensus on a way forward.
It is in this context that we urge that every effort be made to bring the final deliberations regarding the NIE to a swift conclusion and that the key judgments of this NIE, like the previous Iraq NIE, be made available in unclassified form. The Administration has declassified key intelligence findings on many issues, asserting that declassification in these instances was in the public interest and did not compromise intelligence sources or methods. An unclassified summary of the key judgments of this NIE will be essential to conducting a thorough and complete debate and we believe it can be produced without jeopardizing our intelligence capabilities.
Thank you for your consideration of these requests, and thank you for your work on behalf of the American people and the men and women of the intelligence community.
Senate Majority Leader
Speaker of the House of Representatives
John D. Rockefeller IV
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence