Tags: Clinton | CIA | Hurt | Search | for | Iraqi | Weapons

Clinton CIA Hurt Search for Iraqi Weapons

Tuesday, 17 June 2003 12:00 AM

"Slightly more than a year before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the CIA launched a major effort to rebuild its network of Iraqi agents, which had been badly depleted by repeated purges, according to congressional and Bush administration officials with knowledge of the effort," USA Today reported today.

But the Bush administration's efforts to rebuild the agency could not overcome the damage in time.

Starting in 2002, after the defeat of Taliban and al-Qaeda guerrillas in Afghanistan, the CIA finally began developing sources in Iraq who relayed information about Iraqi biological, chemical and nuclear programs, according to a senior intelligence official, the newspaper reported.

"But establishing spies within a regime as closed as Saddam's takes time. And by late last year, U.S. intelligence hadn't managed to develop a network that could find banned weapons or production facilities U.S. officials were sure existed. While the CIA disclosed its difficulties to congressional overseers, it did not make the problem public before the war."

By the end of 2002, Iraqis working for the CIA had begun providing helpful information about Iraq's conventional weapons and other matters relating to the looming U.S. invasion. But the agents had provided no incontrovertible proof of chemical or biological weapons, the officials said.

The CIA's intense effort to rebuild its spy network in Iraq came after it had been virtually eliminated by Saddam Hussein's security forces, according to intelligence officials.

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"Slightly more than a year before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the CIA launched a major effort to rebuild its network of Iraqi agents, which had been badly depleted by repeated purges, according to congressional and Bush administration officials with knowledge of the...
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2003-00-17
Tuesday, 17 June 2003 12:00 AM
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