President Bush says U.S. troops fighting terrorists in Iraq are making Americans safer at home. Opposition Democrats say a U.S. intelligence review concludes that the war in Iraq is building support for terrorists.
President Bush says parts of a 30-page classified review of global terrorism were leaked to the press for political purposes with congressional elections now just over one month away.
Mr. Bush declassified parts of that report this week so he says Americans can see for themselves how opposition Democrats are trying to manipulate that national intelligence estimate to turn voters against the war in Iraq.
"The Democrats can't have it both ways," said President Bush. "Either they believe that Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror, or they agree with the intelligence community and the terrorists themselves that the outcome of Iraq is important in the war on terror. The truth is the Democrats are using the NIE to mislead the American people and justify their withdrawal from Iraq."
The report from 16 U.S. intelligence agencies says fighting in Iraq is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders. It says the war has become a "cause celebre" for terrorists, breeding what it calls a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world while cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.
Democrats say that shows the fallacy of the president's claims that fighting in Iraq is making Americans safer at home.
But the intelligence estimate goes on to say that if terrorists are perceived to have failed in Iraq, fewer people will be inspired to carry on the fight.
At a campaigning rally for the Republican governor of the southern state of Alabama, President Bush said winning the war in Iraq will reduce terrorist threats.
"The greatest danger is not that America's presence in Iraq is drawing new recruits to the terrorist cause," he said. "The greatest danger is that an American withdrawal from Iraq would embolden the terrorists and help them find new recruits to carry out even more destructive attacks on the American homeland."
The report outlines vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement, including what it says is widespread popular opposition in the Muslim world to an ultra-conservative interpretation of Sharia law.
But the U.S. analysis concludes that underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for some time.