Negroponte, speaking Monday at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said that the war has been creating a new generation of jihadist leaders but if the efforts of those leaders fail "or (are) perceived to have failed, fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight."
He said Iraq is only one of several factors described in the National Intelligence Estimate, portions of which were leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post, as influencing terrorist threats against the United States.
Negroponte said "Iraq represents a small portion of the overall NIE."
The document has been a source of White House criticism from Democrats after sources familiar with the document said it describes the war in Iraq as bolstering the terrorist threat against the United States. The Bush administration has said the Iraq section needs to be taken in context. Members of Congress from both parties have asked that the entire document be unclassified.
The National Intelligence chief said the NIE "highlighted the importance of the outcome in Iraq."