Iraq War Fuels Terrorism Threat, U.S. Report Says The U.S. war in Iraq has increased, not decreased, the threat of terrorism, according to a top-level, classified intelligence summary. Findings of that National Intelligence Estimate on "Trends in Global Terrorism" were leaked to The New York Times over the weekend.

Iraq War Fuels Terrorism Threat, U.S. Report Says

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

The U.S. war in Iraq has increased, not decreased, the threat of terrorism, according to a top-level classified intelligence summary. Findings of that National Intelligence Estimate on trends in global terrorism were first reported over the weekend on The New York Times Web site. The intelligence report finds the war in Iraq has fueled a new generation of Islamist radicals who have spread across the globe. U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte has already disputed The Times and other published accounts, saying they reflect only a small handful of the study's conclusions.

Robert Hutchings was the chairman of the National Intelligence Council in 2004 when the Council wrote a similarly critical unclassified estimate of the effort in Iraq. We've reached him in Princeton, New Jersey this morning. Good morning.

Mr. ROBERT HUTCHINGS (former Chairman, National Intelligence Council): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Now, the National Intelligence Estimate, is by definition, a consensus report by of America's 16 intelligence services. Does this mean that all of the directors of all of the U.S. intelligence agencies agree that the war in Iraq has made America less safe?

Mr. HUTCHINGS: Well, that appears to be the case. There are sometimes dissenting voices or dissenting opinions on these estimates, but that wasn't mentioned in the New York Times piece - so apparently this was a consensus view. And it, frankly, doesn't surprise me.

MONTAGNE: Now, you were the chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which oversees this Estimate and worked on others. What sort of intelligence would the council need to come to the critical conclusions that were in this latest classified National Intelligence Estimate?

Mr. HUTCHINGS: Well, this particular estimate - I was involved in the beginning of this - this was done a rather unusual way because it involved conferences and conversations with experts around the world. So it's a classified document but it was based on an awful lot of unclassified work around the world. So, I think the views you find there are pretty broadly shared by experts outside of government, as well as officials inside.

MONTAGNE: Now, back in 2004, you released the - as we mentioned - the unclassified intelligence estimate that was highly critical of the war in Iraq at that point. Could you just briefly remind us of what your assessment found and what it led to, if anything?

Mr. HUTCHINGS: Well, that assessment was really a much broader effort to look at the forces that will shape the world out to the year 2020. Terrorism was included, but it wasn't the dominant theme. On the question of terrorism, it did find that the war in Iraq had catalyzed a global jihad and was producing a - was becoming a training ground and a recruitment pool for a new generation of terrorists.

MONTAGNE: And back to this current one that has just been reported on, what can be learned on the way we're fighting the war on terrorism and the whole question of what part Iraq plays, from this report?

Mr. HUTCHINGS: Well, what I hope would be learned is that we really need to take another look at how we're waging this so-called war on terrorism. Not just Iraq, we've already - that's water under the bridge, in a way. But if is true, as the report says, that the global jihad is getting bigger, not smaller - five years after 9/11 - we really need to course correction. And in my view, it means we should stop seeing this in such overwhelmingly military terms, and see it as a more broad-gauged effort that needs to be made.

MONTAGNE: Well, of course, if the war on Iraq, though, is spawning, you know, terrorists - radicals - doesn't that figure?

Mr. HUTCHINGS: That's certainly part of it, but I would say the action -the Israeli action that we supported in Lebanon has also spawned a new generation of terrorists. And - so there's a range of actions that we are taking by prosecuting this war in such a military fashion that is making matters worse, not better. In short hand, for every one terrorist we kill, there seems to be five more that spring up. So something's wrong with the basic model.

MONTAGNE: Robert Hutchings is a former chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Thanks very much.

Mr. HUTCHINGS: You're welcome.

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