Intelligence Chiefs Testify Before Senate Committee
by Jim Kouri, CPP
The heads of two major intelligence agencies -- the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency -- were called to testify before the US Senate's Armed Services Committee on Thursday. The committee's senators stated they were interested in having the intelligence chiefs give their impressions of what would or could happen should military efforts in Iraq fail or US forces withdraw prematurely.
General Michael Hayden, USAF, director of the CIA, and General Michael Maples, USA, director of the DIA, told the senators that the US-led coalition force in Iraq is the "unifying factor between the conflicting sectarian groups."
General Hayden stated, "We are all acutely aware that Iraq today is far from peaceful. [However] failure in Iraq -- failure to create a viable Iraqi state -- I think would embolden the worst of our enemies, certainly al-Qaeda."
"It would provide [the terrorists] with a safe haven rivaling the one they had in Afghanistan prior to October of 2001," he pointed out to the senators.
"I think it would also embolden other adversaries in the region, particularly Iran, whom I would suggest to you right now, not totally warranted, seems to be conducting a foreign policy with a feeling of almost dangerous triumphalism. And I think that would make that even worse," he stressed.
"Let me say that no single narrative is sufficient to explain all the violence we see in Iraq today. There remains in Iraq today an active insurgency. There remains in Iraq today a broad and vicious al-Qaeda offensive targeting us and innocent Iraqis. In Iraq today there is criminality and lawlessness on a broad scale. In Iraq today there are rival militias competing for power."
General Maples told the committee members that he firmly believes, "the conflict in Iraq has shifted to become increasingly a sectarian struggle for power."
"The perception of unchecked violence in Iraq has created an environment of fear and divisiveness, which empowers militias and decreases confidence in government forces," he told the senators.
"I believe that, in fact, the parties have to be brought together and it has to be a political approach, and the government of Iraq has to be in the lead in doing that," he added.
According to a Pentagon report, the situation in Iraq is grave and al-Qaeda has capitalized on the sectarian environment to increase its attacks, but there are still opportunities for success.
"An overwhelming majority of Iraqis want to live in peace," Hayden said, "and there have been positive improvements recently.
The testimony by the two intelligence agency directors followed that of General John Abizaid.
General Abizaid , the top US commander in Iraq, told the same committee on Wednesday that a timetable for troop withdrawal as well as troop increases would be inappropriate. Abizaid said, "Our troop posture needs to stay where it is."
His comments came in the midst of increasing calls by many Democrats for President Bush to set a timetable for troop withdrawals from Iraq. But Abizaid also warned against another strategy often recommended: an increase in the amount of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. Some critics of President Bush's policies in Iraq have argued that too few troops are present to provide the kind of security necessary to quell the increasing sectarian violence.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.