Washington, May 31 : A top U.S. intelligence official has predicted that the Bush administration would make little progress before leaving office on top national security priorities, including an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, political reconciliation in Iraq and keeping Iran from being able to produce a nuclear weapon.
A regenerated al-Qaeda will remain the leading terrorism threat, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Donald M. Kerr said.
Pakistan's "inward" political focus and failure to control the tribal territories where al-Qaeda maintains a haven, he said, is "the number one thing we worry about."
Kerr's analysis, in a speech Thursday evening that he posited as a presidential intelligence briefing delivered on January 21, 2009, contrasted with more optimistic administration forecasts of rapprochement among Iraq's political forces and a possible Middle East peace agreement in the next eight months.
It also seemed at odds with CIA Director Michael V. Hayden's judgment that al-Qaeda is now on the defensive throughout the world, including along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Kerr is one of two officials -- the other is National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell -- who deliver the President's daily briefing at the White House.
He was speaking to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
None of the three presidential candidates has received a full intelligence briefing. In past election years, the CIA director or his deputy have met with the nominees after the party conventions. This year, following the establishment of the umbrella intelligence directorate in 2005, McConnell and Kerr will probably conduct the briefings.