Tags: Australia | iraq | intel

U.S. Hits Australian Charge of Abused Iraq Intel

Monday, 02 Jun 2008 11:20 AM

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WASHINGTON — The White House Monday rejected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's charges of "abuse" of pre-war intelligence on Iraq, saying "the entire world" agreed on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

"We acted on the intelligence that we had, and that the entire world had," spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters after Rudd alleged "abuse of intelligence information" on the regime in Baghdad.

"No-one else in the world, no other government, had different information and so we acted based on what was the threat that was presented to us. When the intelligence community presents you with their concerns, you'd better take them seriously," said Perino.

Australia, under Rudd's predecessor John Howard, was a staunch backer of the March 2003 US-led invasion to oust Saddam, whom Washington accused of having stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ties to terrorists.

"Since then we, of course, learned that there was not WMD in Iraq, and then the president took action to make sure that the intelligence community would be reformed," said Perino.

"Intelligence is not a perfect science, but they certainly do their best," added Perino, who said she had not seen Rudd's comments and was therefore "not going to speak directly back to the prime minister."

Rudd told Australia's parliament earlier that all the arguments Australia used to justify sending troops to fight in Iraq proved to be wrong as he fulfilled an election-campaign pledge to bring them home.

Rudd, who ousted long-term conservative leader Howard last November, was fiercely critical of the process that took Australia into the war.

Rudd said he was particularly concerned about how the decision to go to war had been made, citing "the abuse of intelligence information."

He said there had been a "failure to disclose to the Australian people the qualified nature of the intelligence -- for example, the pre-war warning that an attack on Iraq would increase the terrorist threat, not decrease it."

--AFP

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