Published Report: U.S. Intelligence Agencies To Express Doubt On Iraqi leadership

NEW YORK (AP) - A new assessment on Iraq may shed some negative
light on Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The New York Times is reporting on its Web site that U.S.
intelligence agencies will issue a new assessment Thursday
expressing doubt about al-Maliki's ability to end the violence
that's tearing his country apart. The assessment will also
reportedly show doubt in the fledgling government's ability to meet
benchmarks toward achieving political unity. The Times' story cites
unidentified officials.

It comes just a day after President Bush scrambled to show his
support for the embattled Iraqi leader. Bush called him a "good
man with a difficult job," after expressing frustration with the
ongoing political tensions in Iraq.

In just a few weeks, the administration is due to present a
crucial report to Congress on progress in Iraq, including steps
toward political reconciliation. Democrats and some Republicans are
pressing to start the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

The president maintains that the buildup of U.S. forces in
militant strongholds is showing results.

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