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CIA: Iraq security to get worse

Bremer meets with White House advisers to discuss situation

WASHINGTON (CNN) --A recent CIA assessment of Iraq warns the security situation will worsen across the country, not just in Baghdad but in the north and south as well, a senior administration source told CNN Tuesday.

The report is a much more dire and ominous assessment of the situation than has previously been forwarded through official channels, this source said. It was sent to Washington Monday by the CIA station chief in Iraq.

It was not immediately clear if the assessment was what prompted the hastily arranged trip to Washington by Iraq civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer, who met Tuesday at the White House with President Bush and senior national security officials.

The report was discussed during the high-level meetings, sources said.

The senior administration source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Bremer agreed with the CIA assessment and added his personal comments to the station chief's memo.

In his Veterans Day speech Tuesday, Bush referred to "recent reporting" of cooperation between Saddam loyalists and terrorist elements from outside Iraq.

"Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists may have different long-term goals, but they share a near-term strategy: to terrorize Iraqis and to intimidate America and our allies," Bush told the conservative Heritage Foundation.

"In the last few months, the adversary has changed its composition and method, and our coalition is adapting accordingly."

Another senior administration official said those points in the speech were based on a U.S. intelligence report about the security situation.

A third U.S. official said the intelligence report was from the CIA and that it highlights what the official conceded are several "major ongoing security issues."

That official refused to characterize the report in further detail. But the senior administration source who did discuss the report said it essentially says things are "gonna get worse" across Iraq.

The source said the memo notes that:

• More Iraqis are "flooding to the ranks of the guerrillas." Many of these Iraqis are Sunnis who had previously been "on the sidelines" but now believe they can "inflict bodily harm" on the Americans.

• Ammunition is "readily available," making it much easier to mount attacks.

The assessment also notes that organization and coordination are getting "tighter" among foreign insurgents -- extremists including but not limited to al Qaeda and Hezbollah -- and those "displaced people" who lost power. (Full story)

On a related matter, this source said Bremer sent out his own separate two-page memo Monday in which he provided alternatives to the current seven-step U.S. plan for the transition of power from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the Iraqi people.

U.S. officials in Washington and military commanders in Iraq have voiced concern about the recent increase of attacks against coalition and other targets in Iraq. Bush has urged his national security team to accelerate the training and deployment of Iraqi security forces.

A large explosion Wednesday apparently shattered the Italian police headquarters in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. Initial reports indicated that six people were killed. (Full story)

Thirty-eight U.S. troops have died this month, bringing the number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 398. Since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1, 259 U.S. servicemen and women have been killed.

There is no reliable source for Iraqi civilian or combatant casualty figures, either during the period of major combat or after May 1.

The Associated Press reported an estimated 3,240 civilian Iraqi deaths between March 20 and April 20, but the AP said that the figure was based on records of only half of Iraq's hospitals, and the actual number was thought to be significantly higher.

CNN's Andrea Koppel and Dana Bash contributed to this report.

 
 
 
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