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(photo credit: AP)
President George W. Bush on Tuesday said it is naive and a mistake to think that the war with Iraq has worsened terrorism, disputing a national intelligence assessment by his own administration. He said he was declassifying part of the report.
"Some people have guessed what's in the report and concluded that going in to Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree," Bush said.
He asserted that portions of the classified that had been leaked were done so for political purposes, referring to the November 7 midterm congressional elections.
Bush announced that he was ordering parts of the report declassified during a White House news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Portions of the document that have been leaked suggest that the threat of terrorism has grown worse since the September 11 terror attacks and the war in Afghanistan, due in part to the war in Iraq.
Democrats have used the report to bolster their criticism of Bush's Iraq policy. The administration has claimed only part of the report was leaked and does not tell the full story.
Both the chairman and the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee have urged the White House to release the material.
Using a portion of the report to attack his Iraq policy and suggest it has fanned more terrorism is "naive," Bush said.
"I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe," he said.
Bush said he had directed National Intelligence Director John Negroponte to declassify those parts of the report that don't compromise national security. The National Intelligence Estimate was written in April.
"You read it for yourself. Stop all this speculation," Bush said.
He complained that "somebody leaked classified information for political purposes," Bush said, criticizing both the news media and people in government who talked to them about classified material.