Washington, DC - Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, made the following statement in response to the unclassified portion of the National Intelligence Estimate released today:

"The public portions of this document underscore the need for a political solution in Iraq that involves all key stakeholders, both within the country and in the region. Rather than the troop escalation the Administration has planned, we must step up our diplomatic efforts to bring the bloodshed to an end.

"The report explicitly notes 'the absence of unifying leaders' in Iraq and identifies 'stronger Iraqi leadership' as a 'key enabler' for progress. It stresses the need for compromise on the part of the Shi'a and Kurds, and the imperative for Sunni acceptance of the current political structure. The report also starkly identifies a brutal truth: Iraq faces a grave humanitarian crisis if its ethno-sectarian divisions are not resolved.

"In short, this document cries out for a more enlightened approach. In conjunction with recent reports from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, it strongly suggests the need for a far more integrated diplomatic, political, economic and military strategy than what the President has so far offered us."