Sept. 25, 2006 — -- As President Bush comes off a series of speeches designed to reassure the American people, a classified report from the nation's 16 spy agencies tells a different story.
According to an estimate from the National Intelligence Council, the war in Iraq is making the threat of terrorism worse.
America is less safe today than it was after Sept. 11, 2001, because the conflict is creating more extremists.
"The war in Iraq has exasperated the global war on terror," said Robert Hutchings, the council's former chairman.
Now, six weeks before the election, Democrats are seizing on the report's findings to argue that Republicans have mishandled the nation's security.
In a written statement issued Sept. 23, Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy said the president had made a "phony argument about the war."
The next day, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid also issued a statement, saying, "Bush Iraq policies have made America less safe."
But they're both countered by supporters of the Iraq war, including Arizona Sen. John McCain.
"The fact is we were attacked on Sept. 11 without any encouragement. … We've got to win the war, both psychologically as well as militarily," McCain told reporters.
The White House says the leaked portions of the report are incomplete and out of context.
One of the president's aides emphasized that they believed taking the fight to the terrorists was, in their words, the best way to win.