First Published: 2003-06-02

 
Controversy mounts over Iraq's WMD
 

US lawmakers defend war in Iraq despite questions about banned weapons as congress might open probe.

 

Middle East Online

If they are not found, that will indicate a very serious intelligence failure

WASHINGTON - Senior US lawmakers from both major political parties Sunday defended their support for the war on Iraq despite doubts about the intelligence used to justify the US-led assault.

Seven weeks after the fall of Baghdad, little proof has emerged to back up US and British claims Iraq was developing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

"I still believe we will find those weapons," Senator John McCain told ABC television's "This Week" program. "Obviously all of us are disappointed that we haven't found more so far."

But McCain, an Arizona Republican who is a leading voice in the US legislature on foreign policy matters, said there is "ample testimony to the brutality and repressiveness of this regime," and that in his opinion "our liberation of Iraq was fully vindicated."

He and Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut however said a congressional investigation may be needed to determine whether US intelligence sources hyped information regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the war.

"Obviously it's going to be important for us to get the answer to the question of whether or not those weapons were there," Dodd said.

Virginia Republican Senator John Warner, told CNN Sunday that the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee - both of which he chairs - are "going to take a look at this."

"But by the fact that we're just investigating it, should not in any way indicate that we're putting any credibility doubt against" those providing the information, he said.

Comments from the legislators came as the US newsweeklies Time and Newsweek reported that officials in the administration of President George W. Bush - particularly in the Pentagon - may have jumped to conclusions about Iraq's banned weapons from shaky intelligence.

The magazines said the administration's tendency to read what it wanted to hear in the reports may be why little evidence has surfaced of Baghdad's nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs.

Central Intelligence Agency officials told Time they would soon present evidence Iraq was developing such weapons, but it appeared searchers were running out of leads.

The case against Iraq was based largely on assumptions rather than hard evidence, Newsweek reported, citing unnamed administration and intelligence officials.

The Pentagon also tended to choose the most dire explanation for intelligence where the meaning was not clear, Time said.

"There was a predisposition in this administration to assume the worst about Saddam," a senior military officer told the newsweekly. "They were inclined to see and interpret evidence a particular way to support a very deeply held conviction."

An unnamed Army intelligence officer blamed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the tendency.

"Rumsfeld was deeply, almost pathologically, distorting the intelligence," the officer told Time.

Senator Bob Graham, who opposed the war and is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, warned that the failure to find weapons in Iraq could carry a political cost for Bush.

"If they are not found, that will indicate a very serious intelligence failure, or the attempt to keep the American people in the dark by manipulating that intelligence information," he told CNN.

"If we reach the point that one of those two is the basis for our inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it is going to undercut the confidence of the American people and raise serious doubts with the international community as to the basic truthfulness of the United States."

But even if the evidence of Iraqi weapons was distorted or exaggerated, Dodd said "I would still come to the same conclusion," and vote in favor of a US-led invasion of Iraq.

"This is a regime that has ... stored, housed, and used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, and clearly other evidence that demonstrates his capacities to acquire additional weapons of mass destruction where there.

"I'm satisfied that this was a just war, and that it was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein in the end."

 

Ahead of Tunisia elections, Ghannouchi appeals for US support

Air strikes fail to halt advance of IS jihadists in Syria

Indian PM warns US to repeat Iraq 'mistake' in Afghanistan

Israel PM warns Iran poses gravest threat to world

Syrian refugees try their luck in Latin America

Kurd troops launch offensive on IS on three fronts

Balkans clamp down on jihadist recruitment

Kuwait strips 18 nationals of citizenship

Israel deploys extra forces as two faiths mark major holy days

Egypt, Libya plunge in good governance rating

Saudi Arabia breaks silence on Huthi occupation of Yemen capital

Rival Libya factions meet for reconciliation talks

Iran-P5+1 nuclear talks ‘to resume’ by mid-October

HRW criticises human rights rollback under Erdogan

Syria's Nusra Front chief warns to transfer battle to West

Obama admits to making serious mistake: We underestimated ‘Islamic State’

Germany begins training Kurdish fighters from northern Iraq

Jordan takes ‘precautionary measures’ to secure borders

Egypt acquits 112 on charges of violating protest law

Shiite dissident dies in gun battle with Saudi security forces

Iraq forces repel IS attack on strategic town west of Baghdad

Russia raises suspicions about US ‘military interference’ in Syria

Yemen capital reels under control of Huthi rebels

Dubai Ruler: Victory over ‘Islamic State’ requires three bigger ingredients

Nusra Front threatens retaliation against coalition nations

Nusra Front urges Lebanon to negotiate for captive soldiers

Iran warns ‘Islamic State’: If you advance, we will attack!

Huthis settle score with Yemen national security apparatus

Egypt postpones verdict in murder case against Mubarak

US-led coalition expands campaign against ‘Islamic State’ in Syria

Yemen Shiite rebels urged to pull out of capital

Time for Iraq's Christians to put up fight against jihadists

Arrests prompt clashes in Arab east Jerusalem

Britain nabs more Islamist suspects

How much is cost of US air war on IS?

France seeks to put Ansar al-Sharia on UN blacklist

Iraqi PM roots out top brass

Iran President slams blunders of West in Middle East

Huthis in Yemen: Shiite rebels or pawns in Iran vicious game?

France pursues ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq after hostage beheading

Kuwait court declines to rule in case of pro-opposition TV owner

Strikes against ‘Islamic State’ put Jordan in 'danger zone'

Latest victims of IS in Tikrit: Reputed mosque and ancient church

Tensions high as Lebanon army raids Syria refugee camps

Palestinian unity talks yield ‘breakthrough’ on number of issues