Tags: Investigations | Coming | Iraq | Intelligence

Investigations Coming on Iraq Intelligence

Wednesday, 04 June 2003 12:00 AM

Republicans in the Senate are discussing the scope of what could be joint hearings on that intelligence, held by the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. The House Intelligence Committee has also begun to receive information from the Central Intelligence Agency on the same Iraq issue.

Both intelligence panels conducted hearings, mostly in secret, on possible intelligence failures prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, an issue now being weighed by an independent commission.

But the timing, scope or public access to any congressional investigation into Iraqi weapons of mass destruction remains unclear. The possible inquiries come as failure, so far, to find any WMD has created a ballooning political crisis for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and is putting the Bush administration on the defensive.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John Warner, R-Va., and Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., continue talks to determine if their committees will conduct a joint investigation, when it will occur, and whether it will be open to the public.

Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., said this week the hearings should be open to the public. "The Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees should jointly conduct a formal, bipartisan investigation of the accuracy of our prewar intelligence on Iraq's WMD," said Rockefeller. "It is important that this investigation not only include open hearings, but also a comprehensive, fact-finding review. We need to get started."

Before the war, Bush said WMD in Iraq posed a direct threat to the United States and that a "coalition of the willing" would disarm him.

"We know that the regime has produced thousand of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, and VX nerve agents," President Bush said in a speech in Cincinnati last October. "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year."

In a Jan. 23 speech, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the Council on Foreign Relations that the United States must act to prevent Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from using weapons of mass destruction. "We don't have a lot of time. Time is running out," Wolfowitz said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., late last month asked CIA director George Tenet for a raft of information on the development of intelligence regarding Iraq's WMD and possible links to al-Qaida.

"The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence believes that it is now time to reevaluate U.S. intelligence regarding the amount or existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that country's linkages to terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida," Goss wrote Tenet May 22.

Goss told Tenet to deliver intelligence materials by July 1. A spokeswoman, Julie Almacy, said Goss has not decided whether or not to hold hearings on those issues.

At least one Democrat has gone on the offensive over the WMD issue. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said he would introduce a resolution asking House committees to demand documents from the Bush administration on the issue.

"This administration made many assertions, for which they have yet to produce any evidence, about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," said Kucinich, a presidential candidate. "What evidence did this administration have to put the lives of American service men and women on the line?"

The House committees, run by Republicans, could easily reject Kucinich's resolution.

While some experts remain confident that the discovery of Iraq's WMD will still be made, critics are wary of apparent changes in the administration's arguments after the fact.

In an interview with Vanity Fair last month, Wolfowitz said the administration emphasized that threat only because there was so much disagreement within the government over Iraq's ties to al-Qaida. "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason," Wolfowitz said, according to the transcript of the interview from the Department of Defense. "That second issue about links to terrorism is the one about which there's the most disagreement within the bureaucracy."

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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Republicans in the Senate are discussing the scope of what could be joint hearings on that intelligence, held by the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. The House Intelligence Committee has also begun to receive information from the Central Intelligence...
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2003-00-04
Wednesday, 04 June 2003 12:00 AM
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