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Iraq assessment may be kept classified

March 7, 2008 at 8:16 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, March 7 (UPI) -- Whether key findings of a new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq will be made public is up in the air, U.S. intelligence officials say.

Officials said the estimate on Iraq would be an update of last summer's assessment predicting moderate security improvements and an increasingly perilous political environment, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The NIE was to be delivered to Congress in advance of testimony by U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said in a letter to Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., who requested the estimate.

Officials said the National Intelligence Board -- McConnell and 16 intelligence agencies chiefs -- will decide whether to release the Iraq report once it is completed.

In an October memo, McConnell said his policy was that NIE assessments "should not be declassified."

NIE findings about Iran were released in November, stirring controversy because they said Iran stopped the weapons element of its nuclear program.

McConnell said estimates were being prepared for fall publication on the "terrorist threat to the homeland" and on "the tactical and longer-term security and political outlook for Afghanistan," the Post said.

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