U.S. intelligence report says Iraq perilous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The situation in Iraq is perilous, with Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence surpassing al Qaeda as the most immediate threat to U.S. goals, according to a long-awaited intelligence report, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

The 90-page document came to no conclusion over whether the conflict in Iraq has become a civil war, but the authors expressed uncertainly over whether Iraqi leaders would be able to transcend the sectarian divide to fight extremism and establish functioning national institutions, the Post reported.

Iran, which the White House has accused of fueling the bloodshed, is mentioned in the document — the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq — but it does not focus on Iran, the Post said.

The report comes as the United States begins the controversial move of deploying 21,500 additional troops to Iraq.

A source familiar with the document said dissents were prominently displayed, a major change from the 2002 estimate in which the dissents were in small type and presented as footnotes, the Post reported. The 2002 estimate said Iraq had arsenals of chemical and biological weapons — a claim that proved to be false after the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

John Negroponte, the outgoing director of national intelligence, briefed President George W. Bush on the report on Thursday, and it was to be given to Congress on Friday. A declassified version was also to be released to the public on Friday.

National Intelligence Estimates are written using input from several agencies and are written by the National Intelligence Council.

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