First Published: 2003-05-31

 
How US prepared report on Iraq's WMD?
 

Powell was under persistent pressure from Pentagon, White House to use shaky intelligence on Iraq.

 

Middle East Online

Questionable intelligence

WASHINGTON & LONDON - US Secretary of State Colin Powell was under persistent pressure from the Pentagon and White House to include questionable intelligence in his report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction he delivered at the United Nations last February, a US weekly reported Friday.

US News and World Report magazine said the first draft of the speech was prepared for Powell by Vice President Richard Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in late January.

According to the report, the draft contained such questionable material that Powell lost his temper, throwing several pages in the air and declaring, "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit."

Cheney's aides wanted Powell to include in his presentation information that Iraq has purchased computer software that would allow it to plan an attack on the United States, an allegation that was not supported by the CIA, US News reported.

The White House also pressed Powell to include charges that the suspected leader of the September 11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta, had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer prior to the attacks, despite a refusal by US and European intelligence agencies to confirm the meeting, the magazine said.

The pressure forced Powell to appoint his own review team that met several times with Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to prepare the speech, in which the secretary of state accused Iraq of hiding tonnes of biological and chemical weapons.

US News also said that the Defense Intelligence Agency had issued a classified assessment of Iraq's chemical weapons program last September, arguing that "there is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons."

However, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress shortly after that that the Iraqi "regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin, cyclosarin, and mustard gas," according to the report.

Powell, Straw voiced doubt over Iraq WMD evidence

The Guardian said Saturday in a report that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Powell expressed doubts in private over public claims they were making about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to war, which was denied by the Foreign Office.

The left-wing British daily said the two men voiced concerns about intelligence on Iraqi weapons during a private meeting in New York.

The encounter came shortly before a key UN Security Council meeting on February 5, when Powell presented what he claimed was clear evidence that Iraq was concealing banned weapons, the Guardian said.

Its story was based on information from an unnamed diplomatic source, who the paper said had read a transcript of the conversation between Straw and Powell.

The transcript recorded Straw voicing concern that assertions being made by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W. Bush about Saddam Hussein's arsenals could not be proved.

The document quoted Powell as allegedly saying he was "apprehensive" about intelligence assessments containing circumstantial evidence, and telling Straw he hoped the facts, when they came out, would not "explode in their faces".

The Guardian, which opposed the US-led war against Iraq, said that the transcript appeared to have been leaked by diplomats who were supportive of the use of force against Baghdad at the time, but now feel they were lied to about its justification.

But the Foreign Office dismissed the Guardian report as "simply untrue" and insisted that "no such meeting took place" between Powell and Straw.

A spokeswoman said: "The Foreign Secretary has always been clear of the strength of the evidence against Iraq in respect of weapons of mass destruction - much of it in UN sources - and has often referred to this."

The British media has in recent days insisted on explanations over how the prime minister's office allegedly exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

In Warsaw on Friday, Blair dismissed as "completely absurd" the idea that intelligence agencies fabricated evidence that Iraq had such weapons in order to justify war.

The US and its allies are to launch a fresh effort next week to find weapons of mass destruction, sending in a 1,300-member team to Iraq to take up a hunt that has turned up no banned weapons so far.

 

Drone strike kills at least 30 ‘Qaeda’ suspects in south Yemen

Without proof, France fires new chemical accusations at Assad regime

Kuwait shuts two papers for breaking news blackout on 'coup tape'

Twitter seeks to end ‘war’ with Erdogan: Two ‘leak accounts’ blocked!

Female candidates push rights issue to fore of Iraq election campaign

Rouhani engages in sweet talk: Iran women not second class citizens

Involvement in violent protests sends Morsi supporters behind bars

Suicide bomber targets Imam Kadhim University in Baghdad

Worse yet to come in South Sudan: Three-year-old nation on brink of collapse

Assad visits Maalula to celebrate ‘victory’ and ‘Easter’

Islamists kill 11 soldiers in worst attack on Algeria army in years

Kidnappers of Tunisian diplomat demand jailed Libyans release

Landmine blasts Tunisia soldier amid growing jihadist threat

Marzouki sets an 'example' by cutting salary by two-thirds

Rouhani: Iran does not intend to be aggressive but can defend itself

Turkey to Russia: We demand a gas price revision

An extraordinary meeting: Gulf ministers agree to end tension with Qatar

US releases $450 million Iranian frozen assets

‘Retaliation is life’ group vows to attack Egypt security forces

For Massacre-scarred Algeria village, peace is worth more than wealth

An act of heroism: Iraq policeman sacrifices himself to shield army recruits

UK ‘determined to catch’ killer of Libya embassy policewoman

Experts: Washington demanded removal of Saudi spy chief

Future of Algeria on wheelchair

Palestinians rally for solidarity with Israel-held prisoners

Turkey may clinch bid to dismantle Italy’s wrecked ship

Israeli, Palestinian negotiators to hold meeting with US envoy

UN ‘gravely concerned’ about South Sudan oil state fighting

South Sudan war: Child soldiers consumed by desire for retribution

Algerians casting their vote for president

Syria world’s most perilous country fro journalists

Egypt jails ex-presidential hopeful for fraud

Egypt leftist leader urges all revolutionary groups to unite

Jordan ‘destroyed’ combat vehicles entering from Syria

South Sudan army loses key oil town of Bentiu

Lebanon parliament soon to elect new president

Zarif to discuss Caspion Sea states in Russia

MERS spreading in Saudi Arabia

Algeria finally opens its piggybank to lure back exiled youth

Suicide bombs rock Ramadi government compound

Three Palestinians killed in Gaza blast

Peace talks delayed after Palestine blamed for fatal shooting

Palestinians clash with Israeli police in Al-Aqsa

Undercover New York police unit that spied on Muslims disbanded

Washington will not issue visa for Iran UN envoy