U.S. officials familiar with the new National Intelligence Estimate said they were unsure when the top-secret report would be completed and whether it would be published before the Nov. 4 presidential election.The surge troops have been withdrawn at this point, and violence is down to a low similar to 2004. But we've achieved this by literally buying an army with the 'Sons of Baghdad' coalitions - an organization not trusted the Iraqi government - at a fee of $25million a month ($300 per "soldier). Obviously the money pit isn't infinite, nor is this a sturdy coalition with a prominent future in peace keeping in the region. So what's next?
More than a half-dozen officials spoke to McClatchy on condition of anonymity because NIE's, the most authoritative analyses produced by the U.S. intelligence community, are restricted to the president, his senior aides and members of Congress except in rare instances when just the key findings are made public.
The new NIE, which reflects the consensus of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, has significant implications for Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, whose differences over the Iraq war are a major issue in the presidential campaign.
The findings seem to cast doubts on McCain's frequent assertions that the United States is "on a path to victory" in Iraq by underscoring the deep uncertainties of the situation despite the 30,000-strong U.S. troop surge for which he was the leading congressional advocate.
No answers so far. But for perspective, these were the same questions we were asking ourselves pre-Surge, mid-Surge, and now post-Surge.
So the surge worked...