TSR: "...no real shock value"
WOLF BLITZER: There was another wave of insurgent attacks today in Iraq, and more of the sectarian violence that's ravaging the country; 23 bodies were found in Baghdad alone. Little wonder that today's report from America's intelligence community amounts to a dire warning about the road ahead.
Joining us now, our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware.
Michael, this national intelligence estimate that the U.S. government put out, the declassified version, paints a very bleak picture of what's happening in Iraq. It says it's not good if the U.S. forces actually stay, and it's not good if the U.S. forces actually leave. You've had a chance to read it. What's your assessment?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I mean, to be honest, these national intelligence assessments or certainly these declassified summaries that we have come closer to painting a more realistic picture than a lot of what we've seen in the past from the administration, or at least publicly from the intelligence community.
I mean, there's no real shock value to this report or its grim assessment. I mean, this is merely the public statements catching up with the reality. Indeed, there would have been a Neverland quality, or more shocking aspect, if it hadn't said these things.
So it does paint an accurate picture. It's interesting to see that now the intelligence community is prepared to say that this is, in fact, what's going on in Iraq.
BLITZER: Because at the end it suggests that it's not by any means out of the question that a nightmare scenario would develop either leading toward anarchy in the streets of Iraq, a partition of Iraq into the various ethnic sectors, or some sort of Iraqi/Shiite strongman emerging who would dominate the political scene.
WARE: Absolutely, all of which are very real possibilities, particularly in the vacuum of any immediate or rapid U.S. withdrawal. The situation has become such that sometimes it's difficult to know what's holding this country together as it is.
Indeed, this country is fraying at every seam. It's not even barely holding itself together. Nonetheless, the United States is now responsible for it. It's holding the baby. It's as though you broke it, you've now bought it. They have to step up, and they have to fix this situation somehow, that they have portrayed in the national intelligence assessment. No matter how grim it may be, this is what the United States is now stuck with.
BLITZER: But can it be fixed, Michael?
WARE: That is the very great question, Wolf. I mean, here on the ground, to be honest, to be completely frank, it's hard to see how.
BLITZER: I think that's the bottom line of this assessment as well. They leave out some hope over the next 12 to 18 months, but not a whole lot if you read it carefully. Michael, thanks very much for joining us.
WARE: Thank you, Wolf.