The White House yesterday drew up emergency plans to accelerate the transfer of power in Iraq after being shown a devastating CIA report warning that the guerrilla war was in danger of escalating out of US control.
The report, an “appraisal of situation” commissioned by the CIA director, George Tenet, and written by the CIA station chief in Baghdad, said that the insurgency was gaining ground among the population, and already numbers in the tens of thousands.
One military intelligence assessment now estimates the insurgents’ strength at 50 000. Analysts cautioned that such a figure was speculative, but it does indicate a deep-rooted revolt on a far greater scale than the Pentagon had led the administration to believe.
An intelligence source in Washington familiar with the CIA report described it as a “bleak assessment that the resistance is broad, strong and getting stronger”.
“It says we are going to lose the situation unless there is a rapid and dramatic change of course,” the source said.
“There are thousands in the resistance — not just a core of Ba’athists. They are in the thousands, and growing every day. Not all those people are actually firing, but providing support, shelter and all that.”
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