AAM: "McDonald's franchise terrorism"

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SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: If reports of what is in the intelligence estimate are right, the fighting, the growth of terrorism is directly related to stopping the daily violence in Iraq.

CNN's Michael Ware is live for us in Baghdad this morning.

Hey, Michael, good morning.


I mean the contents of this report are not surprising at all. In fact, this has been a process entrain here in the war since at least early 2004. And the U.S. Intelligence Committee has been aware -- community has been aware of this.

We saw with the arrival of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2003 with his bombings of the Jordanian Embassy and the U.N. headquarters, followed six months later by the interception of his letter to Osama bin Laden outlining his plan to internationalize the fight here in Iraq, to his video released in July '04 declaring his arrival showing you his suicide bombers. We have known that this war was being radicalized from way back then. And U.S. military intelligence here on the ground have seen the growth of al Qaeda and al Qaeda-inspired groups, not their decrease.

So this strikes at the very core of the Bush administration's grand strategy: fight them over there rather than fight them here. We saw the London tube bombers cite the name of Iraq. We also saw that with Madrid. We are seeing the fulfillment of Osama bin Laden and Zarqawi's vision. And the U.S. intelligence community is now recognizing that -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Michael Ware for us this morning. He's reporting for us from Baghdad.

Thanks, Michael.

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SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Here's a look now at stories that CNN correspondents around the world are covering today.



The war in Iraq is making global terrorism stronger, not weaker. Disclosures from a secret government report reveal U.S. intelligence agencies believe a new generation of al Qaeda leadership is being blooded here in Iraq. With the growth of the terrorist organization evident since 2004, the real question remains, why is information about this report being released now?


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MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Six weeks to go before the elections and Democrats have some new ammunition in their debate against the war in Iraq. Their latest piece of ammunition, a government intelligence report that reportedly says we're less safe now than we were before the Iraq War. The April report, leaked over the weekend, is the first U.S. intelligence appraisal of global terrorism threats since the Iraq War began. According to "The New York Times," the report concludes the Iraq War contributed to an increased threat of terrorism. It also finds the war helped create a new generation of Islamic radicalists. We have correspondents from Washington to Baghdad on this. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon, Kathleen Koch at the White House, Michael Ware is in Baghdad.

Let's start with Barbara at the Pentagon.

Barbara, good morning.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's check the situation in Iraq. CNN's Michael Ware joining us live from Baghdad.

And, Michael, anything in that report that surprised you?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, look, what this really is, this is the unraveling of a great dynamic here. The contents of the report are not startling at all. Ever since the arrival of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the summer of 2003, with the bombings of the Jordan embassy and the U.N. headquarters, followed up a year later by his release of his suicide bombing videos for the first time ever, his declaration of arrival, it has been well known on the ground here that al Qaeda was becoming stronger and that this war was actually making global terrorism stronger, not weaker.

What we see now is President Bush's top 16 intelligence agencies confirming this for him. This undercuts the Bush administration's whole strategy on the war on terror. You're helping them, not hurting them.

The real question is, why is this being leaked now? I mean this is on the back of President Bush just saying, we're safer than we were before the war in Iraq. We've seen the release of the Anbar military intelligence document that said al Qaeda is becoming stronger there and we can't defeat them. Now we have this leak.

We are starting to see the war apparatus, the military and the intelligence agencies, who have been screaming about this for years, starting to raise questions about their political leadership. They're no longer quite on the same song sheet. And I suspect it's because the men on the ground are sick of seeing what's happening to their men and women here on the battlefield being distorted back home.


M. O'BRIEN: So what you're suggesting is, Michael, there's so much dissension within the ranks that we're seeing leaks like this and we probably should expect to see more in the future?

WARE: Well, all I can tell you is this, that we see these leaks coming out over the recent weeks. They're very selective and they're very much on point with regard to the strength of al Qaeda.

What I can tell you about is the shift in the mood that I've experienced here. I've watched it develop over a year. But in recent months, it's boiled even further. You talk to top American commanders and they can only thinly veil their frustration. The essential attitude is, "I'm doing what I can here in Iraq with what little I've been given. Just don't expect me to smile about it."

They're now starting to see the grind between the military and the political start to take its effect. And I suspect from what I'm getting here on the ground, the military has almost had enough and it may be time for radical solutions.


M. O'BRIEN: Michael Ware in Baghdad, thank you very much.

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SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: A report on global terrorism is getting lots of attention this morning. It's the first since the Iraq war began.

According to the "New York Times," the report concludes the Iraq war is contributing to an increased threat of terrorism. It also says the war has helped create a new generation of Islamic radicalism.

We get some reaction this morning.

Kelli Arena is in Washington, D.C. Kathleen Koch joins us from the White House.

Michael Ware in Baghdad.

Let's begin with Kelli -- why is this report so important, Kelli?

S. O'BRIEN: Let's get reaction to the intelligence report from Baghdad this morning.

CNN's Michael Ware is there -- hey, Michael, good morning to you.

It's a report that's actually been out for a while, but it's classified.

Why do you think the leak is happening now?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the most fascinating thing about it, Soledad. I mean the contents of the report simply are not new. This has been a known reality here on the ground in Iraq, that al Qaeda is getting stronger, not weaker, not just in Iraq, but globally.

Look at the what's been done in the name of Iraq -- the London train bombings, Madrid and other things.

I mean what these top 16 intelligence agencies are telling President Bush, in effect, is that everything Osama bin Laden wanted is now happening. September 11 was Osama and the old guard saying you see what we can do, now you do it. It's McDonald's franchise terrorism -- think globally, act locally. And we're seeing that spread.

And we're seeing them blooded here in Iraq -- either physically coming and learning, or at least gaining from the inspiration and the experience of Iraq. The real question is given that this is so well known in the intelligence community -- in fact, this report started being written in 2004 -- why is it coming out now?

We've already seen one leak from U.S. Marines intelligence about the difficulties in Al Anbar Province, where al Qaeda has effectively taken over and they -- the Marines don't have enough troops to defeat them. Now we have this, on the back of President Bush saying because of Iraq, we are safer, not in more danger.

This says the exact opposite.

I think we're starting to see the U.S. military commanders and the U.S. intelligence community chafing at what they see as the restrictions put on them to fight this war, and in comparison to what they're hearing from D.C. to the ugly reality that they've been reporting on the ground -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Michael Ware is in Baghdad for us this morning.

Michael, thanks.

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S. O'BRIEN: To Iraq now to see how the intelligence report is being viewed in the war zone. CNN's Michael Ware is live for us in Baghdad.

Michael, good morning.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, the content of this report are not in themselves stunning or surprising. The fact that al Qaeda has become stronger here, the fact that the war in Iraq has fueled and inspired Islamic militants across the world is no great revelation.

In fact, this was clearly seen here on the ground way back in 2004, which, coincidentally, is the time when this report was first written. Essentially, what the top 16 intelligence agencies are telling President Bush here is that the very thing the president says he set out to defeat here in Iraq he has fueled and inflamed.

This is the vision of Osama bin Laden and the late Abu Musab al- Zarqawi fulfilled. They were trying to show jihadis a model that they could build upon, McDonald's terrorism, franchise terrorism. Think globally, act locally.

That was set to inspire. This is what we are seeing. And now we know this is what the president is being told.

The question is, why is it released now? Why has it been leaked? This is a sign of the chafing between the military on the ground fighting a war with one arm behind its back and the intelligence agencies. Now the friction between them with what is being said in D.C. about a very different picture that's being painted than the realities here on the ground -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Michael Ware for us in Baghdad. Michael, thanks.