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."

 

Saudi Arabia ousts head of Syria opposition government

Kerry again places onus on Hamas to accept ceasefire

Maliki meets Sunni tribal leaders in new bid to gain support

Islamists lose in Libya parliament elections

Syria oil industry suffers huge losses because of war

Turkey detains dozens of senior police officers for 'spying'

Israeli envoy: Our soldiers deserve a Nobel Peace Prize

Rights group denounces Kuwait's revocation of citizenship

Britain finds evidence of effort to Islamise state-run schools

Fiercest fighting in months hits Eastern Damascus

Iraq slams Jordan for hosting 'unacceptable' meeting of Sunni critics

Erdogan sacrifices Gaza mediation in favour of anti-Israel diatribes

Israel hits Al-Jazeera Gaza office

UN calls for help to vaccinate Syria toddlers against polio

Erdogan has stopped talking to Obama

Israel confirms kidnapped soldier is dead

South Sudan rebels pledge to pull troops out fails

Rouhani: More negotiations only solution for nuclear deal

Israel identify 12 soldiers killed over the weekend

UAE pledges $41 million aid for Gaza reconstruction

Security Council condemns persecution of Iraqi Christians

Deadly clashes erupt in Benghazi

27 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza assault

One of world’s oldest monasteries falls into hands of jihadists in Iraq

Syria rebels expel jihadists from four areas in Damascus region

Kuwait revokes citizenship of owner of pro-opposition Al-Youm TV

Diplomacy intensifies to end weeks of deadly violence in Gaza

Turkey imposes curfew on Hakkari town after clashes

UAE slams Doha-based Al-Jazeera over fabricated Gaza news

Syria to Russia: Thanks for supporting our victory!

Behind the scene: Kerry criticises Israel offensive on Gaza

IAEA says Iran complying with nuclear deal

France slams and bans ‘anti-Semitic’ Gaza rally

UN chief denounces persecution of Iraqi Christians

Kerry in Cairo to stop Mideast conflict

At least 47 killed in battle for Libya airport

Gaza death toll exceeds 500 amid UN impotence

Bahrain files lawsuit to suspend Al-Wefaq activities

Shejaiya massacre: Israel’s revenge for killing of 13 soldiers in Gaza

Egypt summons Turkey charge d'affaires over Erdogan’s criticism

South Sudanese rebels launch offensive to retake key town

Lebanon detains two over shocking child beating video

Syria President maintains mum on Faruq al-Sharaa

‘Islamic State’ claims responsibility for deadly Baghdad bombings

Bloody Sunday in Gaza as nearly 90 Palestinians killed