WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq confirms the state of civil war there, an expert said Friday.
"Regarding the civil war, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a duck. Sixteen intelligence agencies have confirmed this grim reality and given us a new baseline for the debate. The heart of the Iraq debate is an expansion of current U.S. presence versus a phased, deliberate withdrawal. I regret the NIE did not focus on the real alternatives to the status quo. That would have been a true contribution to the debate," said Rand Beers, president of the National Security Network, a Washington-based foreign policy think tank.
"The intelligence community judges that the term "civil war" does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shiite-on-Shiite violence, al-Qaida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence," an unclassified summary of the new NIE released Friday said.
"Nonetheless, the term 'civil war' accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements," the NIE summary said.
Beers, who was a National Security Council special assistant for terrorism to President George W. Bush, quit the NSC just three days before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Eight weeks later he volunteered to be a national security adviser for 2004 Democratic presidential nominee