So who is Bush going to punish now for leaking this CIA cable on the deteriorating Iraq situation? 2 C.I.A. Reports Offer Warnings on Iraq’s Path (NYT):
…The cable, sent late last month as the officer ended a yearlong tour, presented a bleak assessment on matters of politics, economics and security, the officials said. They said its basic conclusions had been echoed in briefings presented by a senior C.I.A. official who recently visited Iraq.
The officials described the two assessments as having been “mixed,” saying that they did describe Iraq as having made important progress, particularly in terms of its political process, and credited Iraqis with being resilient.
But over all, the officials described the station chief’s cable in particular as an unvarnished assessment of the difficulties ahead in Iraq. They said it warned that the security situation was likely to get worse, including more violence and sectarian clashes, unless there were marked improvements soon on the part of the Iraqi government, in terms of its ability to assert authority and to build the economy.
…Asked about the cable, a White House spokesman, Sean McCormack, said he could not discuss intelligence matters. A C.I.A. spokesman would say only that he could not comment on any classified document.
…A separate, more formal, National Intelligence Estimate prepared in July and sent to the White House in August by American intelligence agencies also presented a dark forecast for Iraq’s future through the end of 2005. Among three possible developments described in that document, the best case was tenuous stability and the worst case included a chain of events leading to civil war.
After news reports disclosed the existence of the National Intelligence Estimate, which also remains classified, President Bush initially dismissed the conclusions as nothing more than a guess. Since then, however, violence in Iraq has increased, including the recent formation of a Shiite militia intended to carry out attacks on Sunni militants.
The end-of-tour cable from the station chief, spelling out an assessment of the situation on the ground, is a less-formal product than a National Intelligence Estimate. But it was drafted by an officer who is highly regarded within the C.I.A. and who, as station chief in Baghdad, has been the top American intelligence official in Iraq since December 2003. The station chief oversees an intelligence operation that includes about 300 people, making Baghdad the largest C.I.A. station since Saigon during the Vietnam War era.
The senior C.I.A. official who visited Iraq and then briefed counterparts from other government agencies was Michael Kostiw, a senior adviser to Mr. Goss. One government official who knew about Mr. Kostiw’s briefings described them as “an honest portrayal of the situation on the ground.”