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Bush to Declassify Iraq Intelligence Report

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2006 – Sending the U.S. military into Iraq was not a mistake, and if America had never gone into Iraq, terrorists would still be active and would still be promoting their radical movement, President Bush said here today.

To dispel rumors and speculation about the findings of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was recently leaked to the media, Bush announced today that he is declassifying the document so the public can draw their own conclusions.

“You can read it for yourself. We'll stop all the speculation, all the politics about somebody saying something about Iraq, you know, somebody trying to confuse the American people about the nature of this enemy,” Bush said during a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House.

The media has reported that the classified report, which was completed in April, finds that the Iraq war increased the terrorist threat to the United States. Bush said he agrees that because of coalition successes against the leadership of al Qaeda, the enemy is becoming more diffuse and independent in Iraq, but said he does not believe that there would be less terrorism in the world if America had not gone into Iraq.

“To suggest that if we weren't in Iraq, we would see a rosier scenario with fewer extremists joining the radical movement requires us to ignore 20 years of experience,” Bush said. “We weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th. We weren't in Iraq, and thousands of fighters were trained in terror camps inside (Afghanistan.) We weren't in Iraq when they first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. We weren't in Iraq when they bombed the (USS) Cole. We weren't in Iraq when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.”

If the U.S. weren’t in Iraq, the terrorists would find other places to attack, because they have a history of killing to achieve their objectives, Bush said. Going on the offense against these terrorists is the only solution that will keep America safe, he said.

“This government is going to do whatever it takes to protect its homeland,” he said. “The best way to protect America is defeat these killers overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. We're not going to let lies and propaganda by the enemy dictate how we win this war.”

Karzai also defended U.S. action in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying that terrorism existed long before Sept. 11, and more action needs to be taken around the world to get rid of extremists.

For years, extremist forces have been killing people in Afghanistan and the surrounding region, closing schools, burning mosques, uprooting vineyards, and forcing populations to poverty and misery, Karzai said. The terrorists came to America on Sept. 11, but they were attacking U.S. interests abroad for many years before that, he noted.

“We are a witness in Afghanistan as to what they are and how they can hurt,” Karzai said, likening that to Americans witnessing the Sept. 11, 2001, attack in New York. “You were a witness in New York,” he said. “Do you forget people jumping off the 80th floor or 70th floor when the planes hit them?

“Who did that? And where are they now? And how do we fight them? How do we get rid of them, other than going after them? Should we wait for them to come and kill us again?” Karzai asked. “That's why we need more action around the world, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to get them defeated --- extremism, their allies, terrorists and the likes of them.”

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