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LONDON - A CIA (news - web sites) official who claims in a book that the West is losing the war on terror said in an interview Tuesday night that the war in Iraq (news - web sites) was actually helping al-Qaida.
The 23-year veteran of the CIA, who also has spoken with the U.S. media, is releasing the book anonymously and has not identified himself.
"Iraq was a gift of epic proportions to Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and those who think like him," the man said, his face hidden during the interview on the British Broadcasting Corp. "Newsnight" show.
The CIA veteran's claim comes at a time when British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) is facing the prospect of another potentially critical report to be released on Wednesday on Britain's participation in the war in Iraq.
The book, "Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror," is to be released next month in the United States.
In the BBC interview the official dismisses two arguments that have been made by the Bush administration: that bin Laden and al-Qaeda are "on the run" and that the Iraq invasion has made America safer.
Criticizing the intelligence information used about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction before the war, the CIA official said: "Currently, we're in a lose-lose situation in Iraq and Afghanistan (news - web sites). If we stay, we bleed. If we go, the problem festers even worse."
He urged the United States to debate its policies in the Middle East, including its support for countries such as oil giant Saudi Arabia and its unqualified support for Israel.
"I think before you draft a policy to defeat bin Laden you have to understand that our policies are what drives him and those who follow him," the official told BBC.
Asked about the recent report of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Iraq, he said: "If the message about the nature of the evidence was not given to the president, then it's not a question of bad analysis it's a question of bad management
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