Experts: Unclassified Report ‘Pure Pablum,’ Hides Truth

Jul 17, 2007 12:10pm

Intelligence analysts and the former White House counterterror official describe as "pure pablum" the unclassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate released today on terror threats to the United States. "Nothing in here is going to surprise anybody who’s been following this," said one senior U.S. intelligence official. "It’s more about what it doesn’t say than what it does say," says Richard Clarke, the former White House official who is now an ABC News consultant.   Read the Declassified National Intelligence Estimate "What is left out of the version released publicly is the explicit statement that al Qaeda is back and has operations underway," Clarke says.  The 2006 version of the National Intelligence Estimate claimed U.S. efforts had "seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa’ida and disrupted its operations." THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Blotter Possible New Message From Osama Bin Laden Blotter Exclusive: Terror Commander: New Attack Will Dwarf Failed Bomb Plot Blotter Signal to Attack? Worries Over Latest al Qaeda Tape Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. "That’s no longer the case in 2007, and you have to read between the lines to understand how we have lost ground," Clarke says. The current White House counterterrorism official, Fran Townsend, the assistant to the president for homeland security, told reporters today, "Al Qaeda is weaker today than if we had not taken strong action against them." She said she would not address still-classified aspects of the intelligence estimate that al Qaeda had regained strength at levels not seen since before the 9/ll attacks. The Blotter on ABCNews.com reported last week that senior law enforcement and intelligence officials had "multiple and credible" reports that an al Qaeda terror cell may be on its way to the United States or could already be in the country. Today’s report also concludes that "al-Qa’ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI)." "Given that there was no al Qaeda in Iraq until we invaded there," says Clarke, "it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that going to Iraq has created a further threat to the United States."  Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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