The CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department have warned President Bush that the United States and its Iraqi allies aren't winning the battle against Iraqi...
WASHINGTON — The CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department have warned President Bush that the United States and its Iraqi allies aren’t winning the battle against Iraqi insurgents who are trying to derail the country’s Jan. 30 elections, according to administration officials.
The officials, who agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity because intelligence estimates are classified, said, however, that the battle in Iraq wasn’t lost and that successful elections might yet be held next month.
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But they said the warnings — including one delivered this week to Bush by CIA Director Porter Goss — indicated that U.S. forces hadn’t been able to stop the insurgents’ intimidation of Iraqi voters, candidates and others who want to participate in the elections.
“We don’t have an answer to the intimidation,” one senior official said.
Nor have the United States and interim Iraqi government been able to find any divisions they can exploit to divide and conquer the Sunni Muslim insurgency, the intelligence reports say.
The elections are key to U.S. strategy in Iraq, and Bush and his team have insisted that they proceed as scheduled.
Bush and other top White House officials have steadfastly predicted the insurgency will fail, even as they have acknowledged lately that violence is rising.
“The terrorists will do all they can to delay and disrupt free elections in Iraq, and they will fail,” Bush told cheering Marines last week in Camp Pendleton, Calif.
But several of the officials said a vital effort to woo Sunnis, who held privileged status under Saddam Hussein and are now leading the insurgency, hasn’t borne fruit.
“It all boils down to the aura of the former regime. I think there are a lot of people sitting on the fence. They don’t want to be seen as collaborating,” one defense official said.