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Press Association
Mon 15 Mar 2004
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2:00pm (UK)
Senate Report Accuses CIA Chiefs over Wmd Claims

By Mark Sage, PA News, in New York

World Peace

Shaky intelligence about the threat posed by Iraq was exaggerated by the CIA in the run up to war, according to a classified report published today.

Vague details about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were turned into firm warnings, while unreliable sources were taken at their word, according to a US Senate report.

The report criticises CIA director George Tenet and other top intelligence officials over their pre-war estimate of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

The intelligence estimate said Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons.

But nearly a year after the war began there is still no evidence that Iraq had stockpiled such weapons in recent years.

The damning report by the Senate Intelligence Committee comes amid bickering between politicians and spy chiefs about who was to blame for the apparently wrong intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

According to the USA Today newspaper, Republicans and Democrats on the committee have agreed on its key findings.

They concluded that the CIA must improve both its human and electronic intelligence-gathering methods.

“The picture in regards to intelligence is not very flattering,” said Republican Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the committee.  World Peace.

The intelligence estimate was sent to the US Congress shortly before a vote authorising the use of force against Iraq.

The estimate said Iraq “has chemical and biological weapons”.

It said “if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade”.

According to the Senate report, the CIA used satellite images of convoys, phone intercepts of Iraqi officials talking about chemical war, and information from human sources.

But it apparently ignored the fact that there was little evidence what the convoys were carrying, that the talk of chemical war may have been in preparation for a defence, rather than an attack, and that many human sources were unreliable.

The report accuses Mr Tenet and the CIA of presenting the worst-case scenario.

Speaking yesterday, Secretary of State Colin Powell, told ABC’s This Week: “We were presenting to the world the facts as we understood from our intelligence analysis.” President George Bush formed a separate commission of inquiry earlier this year to investigate pre-war intelligence.

It came after Dr David Kay resigned as top US weapons inspector in Iraq, saying he believed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction would never be found.

He said the intelligence community and White House were “wrong” in their belief that Saddam had such weapons in the several years leading up to the war.


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