COMMENTS: Long, Difficult, Turbulent

NBC's Iraq lead from Lisa Myers looked back to the President's pre-war planning while in Baghdad ABC's Terry McCarthy (subscription required) looked forward to a looming political power struggle. Muqtada al-Sadr emerged from hiding to preach a Yankee Go Home sermon in the city of Kufa. McCarthy quoted al-Sadr's demands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: "I call upon the government not to extend the occupation even for a single day." Mused McCarthy: "His timing may be perfect" as "al-Maliki's power is weakening" and abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, a chief rival to al-Sadr for leadership among Iraq's Shiites, has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer. McCarthy concluded that the 33-year-old cleric "is getting ready to stake his claim to power."

Myers obtained from the Senate Intelligence Committee an assessment written three months before the US invaded Iraq from the National Intelligence Council. It "accurately predicted" sectarian violence and warned that "any effort to build democracy would be a long, difficult and probably turbulent process." Myers noted that the assessment was not reflected in official pre-war talking points, rerunning that favorite soundbite from Vice President Dick Cheney on NBC's Meet the Press: "My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."


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