"Dedicated to exposing the lies and impeachable offenses of George W. Bush"


CIA Secret Definition of Civil War
Mark Hosenball
September 18, 2006 issue

Sept. 18, 2006 issue - Is Iraq in a civil war? The CIA has developed its own secret guideline for answering that increasingly contentious question. CIA officials offered the definition of "civil war," which remains classified, at a closed-door Capitol Hill briefing to discuss the latest grim Pentagon assessment of the conflict, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the briefing's content who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the material.

The officials declined to share the CIA's precise criteria for civil war. One former high-level intel official who worked on similar analytical issues said his definition included a conflict in which two or more factions claimed to be operating rival governments, with checkpoints established to separate the parties. A counterterror official who, like the former official, also asked for anonymity due to the sensitive subject, indicated the CIA definition was more "subtle," and alluded to the existence of identifiable factions fighting the government and of "no go" areas in which government forces had no sway. (In other words, the situation in Iraq is too chaotic to qualify as civil war, being as much a matter of thuggery as of a clear competition for political power.) But the official added that among intel agencies there are differing opinions over what constitutes civil war, and also about how to describe what is happening in Iraq.

Asked to comment, CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano told news-week: "There is a range of analytic views within the agency and the intelligence community on violence in Iraq, and we are careful in our products to identify those differences. It's not unusual for CIA to offer policymakers analytic frameworks—comparative case studies, indicators, definitions and more—to help them assess complex issues. In this case, the work is classified, so it would be inappropriate for me to get into specifics."

—Mark Hosenball

Original Text