By: E&P Staff
With the “Scooter” Libby 2003 leak to New York Times reporter Judith Miller still very much in the news, the newspaper has been the recipient of a new, much different leak.
The Times reports Sunday (available on its Web site now) that an internal staff report by the United States Embassy and military command in Baghdad “provides a sobering province-by-province snapshot of Iraq’s political, economic and security situation, rating the overall stability of 6 of the 18 provinces ‘serious’ and one ‘critical,'” reporters Eric Schmitt and Edward Wong write.
A copy of the report, which is not classified, was provided to the Times by a government official in Washington, “who opposes the way the war is being conducted and said the confidential assessment provided a more realistic gauge of stability in Iraq than the recent portrayals by senior military officers. It is dated Jan. 31, 2006, three weeks before the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra, which set off reprisals that killed hundreds of Iraqis.”
The article continues: “The patterns of discord mapped by the report confirm that ethnic and religious schisms have become entrenched across much of the country, even as monthly American fatalities have fallen. Those indications, taken with recent reports of mass migrations from mixed Sunni-Shiite areas, show that Iraq is undergoing a de facto partitioning along ethnic and sectarian lines, with clashes ? sometimes political, sometimes violent ? taking place in those mixed areas where different groups meet.
“The report, the first of its kind, was written over a six-week period by a joint civilian and military group in Baghdad that wanted to provide a baseline assessment for conditions that new reconstruction teams would face as they were deployed to the provinces, said Daniel Speckhard, an American ambassador in Baghdad who oversees reconstruction efforts.”
On Thursday, President Bush argued in a speech that his strategy was working despite rising violence in Iraq.
After another attack on a mosque left at least 90 dead on Friday, the U.S. ambassador said new sectarian violence threatened to engulf not only Iraq but much of the entire region.
“Is there a civil war? Yes, there is an undeclared civil war that has been there for a year or more,” an Iraqi official, Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, told The Associated Press, after more violence on Saturday. “All these bodies that are discovered in Baghdad, the slaughter of pilgrims heading to holy sites, the explosions, the destruction, the attacks against the mosques are all part of this.”