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Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the declassified portion of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released today shows that the country has lost important ground in the global struggle against terrorism thanks to the war in Iraq.

“What is most distressing about this new intelligence estimate is its depressing familiarity,” Lantos said. “The NIE describes threats that are nearly identical to threats the United States faced before 9/11. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt what most Americans already knew – that after billions expended on Iraq, the United States is no further along the path to victory against al-Qaeda as it was on September 12, 2001.”

The National Intelligence Estimate states that al-Qaeda "has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability,” and indicates that the country faces highly capable al-Qaeda operatives flowing out of Iraq, as well as expanding radical, self-generating extremist cells in western countries.

“The war in Iraq has undoubtedly had a negative effect on our national security,” Lantos said. “We are mired in a conflict that provides near daily recruiting material for extremists. Never in American history has so much blood and treasure been expended simply to lose ground in the real battle at hand. It is maddening.”

Lantos noted that the NIE confirms what many have long suspected – that al-Qaeda has made gains in Iraq. The report also states that al-Qaeda has reestablished its central organization, training infrastructure and lines of global communication over the past two years, putting the United States in a "heightened threat environment"

The declassified text of the National Intelligence Estimate can be found by clicking here.