WASHINGTON — New U.S. intelligence reports appear to paint a bleak picture of the security conditions in Afghanistan and say the war cannot be won unless Pakistan roots out militants on its side of the border.
The reports, one on Afghanistan, the other on Pakistan, could complicate the Obama administration's plans to claim next week that the war is turning a corner. But U.S. military commanders have reportedly challenged the conclusions, saying they are based on outdated information that does not take into account progress made in the fall.
The Associated Press said it was told by officials who did not want to be identified that the analyses were detailed in briefings to the Senate Intelligence Committee this week and some of the findings were shared with members of the House Intelligence Committee.
The reports, known as National Intelligence Estimates, are prepared by the director of national intelligence and used by policymakers as high up as the president to understand trends in a region. The new reports are the first ones done in two years on Afghanistan and six years on Pakistan. Neither the director of national intelligence nor the CIA would comment on either report.
AP said it was told by an official that the new report on Afghanistan cites progress in "inkspots" where there are enough U.S. or NATO troops to maintain security, such as Kabul and parts of Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Much of the rest of the country, however, remains Taliban-controlled, or at least vulnerable to Taliban infiltration.
The report is said to contain public opinion polling that finds Afghans are ambivalent, as willing to cut a deal with the Taliban as they are to work with the Americans.
AP said it was told by another official briefed on the new report on Pakistan that it concludes that the Pakistani government and military are not willing to obliterate terrorist safe havens in its lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
The document says Pakistan's government pays lip service to cooperating with U.S. efforts against the militants and still secretly backs the Taliban as a way of hedging its bets in order to influence Afghanistan after a U.S. departure from the region.
AP said it was told by military officials that there is a disconnect between the findings of the intelligence reports, completed in the fall, and separate battlefield assessments done by the war commander, Gen. David Petraeus, and others that contain more up-to-date and sometimes more promising accounts.