Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
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Apparently the CIA has conducted an internal review of the reports leading up to the war.
The CIA was justified in telling President Bush and top aides last fall that Saddam Hussein was still seeking weapons of mass destruction, but the agency often lacked precise, up-to-date information about the threat that those weapons posed, an internal CIA review has found.
Former CIA deputy director Richard Kerr, who is leading the study, said he found that the spy agency was ``surprisingly consistent'' in reporting during the year before the U.S. invasion of Iraq that Baghdad was trying to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
But Kerr, in a telephone interview with Knight Ridder, said the status and locations of those weapons programs was ``harder to conclude.''
The report, while broadly backing the spy agency, is likely to provide ammunition to critics who say the White House exaggerated the Iraqi threat beyond what was known by U.S. intelligence agencies.
Kerr, who emphasized that he believes the CIA did a good job on Iraq, said that the CIA's sourcing on Iraq's weapons program in recent years was ``less specific and detailed, scattered'' than in earlier years.
That was particularly true after United Nations weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998, he said.
He said it was reasonable to determine that Saddam was seeking banned weapons, in part because of reports of Iraqi agents trying to covertly acquire materials for WMD.
The report rebuts charges that the CIA erred in concluding that Saddam was still seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
``It is unlikely that even the most critical review of reporting would have led to a conclusion that WMD programs were not being pursued,'' the draft report states, according to a senior intelligence official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
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