MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Michele Norris.
The White House today continued to push its interpretation of an intelligence report that was leaked over the weekend and then declassified in part yesterday. The National Intelligence Estimate described the Iraq war as feeding a global jihadist movement and breeding deep resentment toward the U.S. in the Muslim world.
Today, the White House spokesman insisted that the Iraq war has not made the U.S. less safe and that the war on terror is being won. Critics said the intelligence estimate contradicts those positions. We have two reports.
First, NPR's Don Gonyea.
DON GONYEA: If the White House thought that yesterday's declassification of a portion of the National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, would quiet the controversy, that judgment was wrong.
In total just over three pages were made public yesterday, barely 10 percent of the entire document. Democrats on Capitol Hill immediately called for the complete report to be released. White House spokesman Tony Snow summarily rejected that call today.
Mr. TONY SNOW (Press Secretary, White House): In short, we're not going to release the documents because we don't want to place people's lives at risk. We don't want to place sources and methods at risk. We don't want to compromise our ability to work with foreign governments who have been essential in helping prosecute and continue to prosecute the war on terror. And we want to make sure that the president's receives the best and most honest analysis he can from intelligence sources.
GONYEA: Snow talked at a news briefing today, a briefing that had not initially been on the schedule because the president was out of town for a fundraiser. The session was added on short notice this morning as questions about the NIE continued. Much of the focus was on one portion of what the White House declassified, the part that says the Iraq war is creating more supporters of jihadist movements.
Snow said repeatedly that the NIE does not conclude that these new supporters of jihad are necessarily terrorists.
Mr. SNOW: People who say yes, I support bin Laden is a lot different than people who say I'm strapping on the vest and going to kill Americans. That's a difference.
GONYEA: Snow did acknowledge that the intelligence report says the Iraq war has meant more support for jihad, or holy war in the Muslim world. But he insisted that the U.S. is still winning the war on terror because al-Qaida leadership has been disrupted, because it no longer has a nation to use as a base of operation as it did in Afghanistan and because its ability to launch a major attack has been severely damaged.
Mr. SNOW: Now, does it mean that we mean that we put on rose colored glasses and say there's no threat? Of course not. But it's a different kind of threat now. It is more numerous, because you have more people who are responding to jihadi propaganda. But on the other hand, you do not have a concentrated capability to hit, and we are determined to continue to develop methods to strike them wherever they are so that they are not going to be able to regain those sorts of capabilities.
GONYEA: That interpretation is the foundation for the White House claim that Iraq is not hurting but is helping the fight against terrorism.
But many administration critics read the NIE report as saying quite the opposite. The administration faces a skeptical public as it makes its argument. Polls show a strong majority of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of the war in Iraq and a CBS/New York Times poll this month shows that fewer than half see Iraq as part of the war on terrorism.
Both the White House and its critics will be watching eagerly for fresh polling results in the wake of the NIE later this week. Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House.
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