Bush misused Iraq intelligence says US report
Washington, June 5, 2008
US President George W Bush and his top policymakers exaggerated Saddam Hussein's links to terrorism and ignored doubts among intelligence agencies about Iraq's arms programs as they made their case for war, a Senate committee reported on Thursday.
The Senate intelligence committee said in a study that major Bush administration statements that Iraq had a partnership with al Qaeda and provided it with weapons training were unsupported by intelligence, and sometimes contradicted it.
It also said statements on Iraq's weapons before the March 2003 US-led invasion were substantiated in most cases by available US intelligence, but that they failed to reflect internal debate over those findings.
The long-delayed Senate study supported previous reports and findings that the administration's main case for war -- that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction -- was inaccurate and deeply flawed.
"The president and his advisors undertook a relentless public campaign in the aftermath of the (Sept. 11, 2001) attacks to use the war against al Qaeda as a justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein," intelligence committee chairman John Rockefeller said in written commentary on the report.
"Representing to the American people that the two had an operational partnership and posed a single, indistinguishable threat was fundamentally misleading and led the nation to war on false pretenses."
The report also cited at least one statement -- by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, that the Iraqi government operated underground weapons of mass destruction facilities -- that was not backed up by intelligence information.
The committee voted 10-5 to approve the report, with two Republican lawmakers supporting it. Sen Christopher Bond and three other Republican panel members denounced the study in an attached dissent as a "partisan exercise."
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino cited Republican objections to the report, but said the issue of inaccurate intelligence had been previously aired.
"We had the intelligence that we had, fully vetted, but it was wrong. We certainly regret that and we've taken measures to fix it," Perino said.
US public opinion, supportive of the war at the start, has soured on the war in the last few years, contributing to a dive in Bush's popularity. - Reuters