Pentagon: WMD report consistent with U.S. case
Summary: 'No reliable information' on new Iraqi weapons
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. officials denied Friday that a Defense Intelligence Agency report from September 2002 in any way conflicted with U.S. claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
The responses came after CNN obtained an unclassified one-page summary of the DIA Operational Support Study, in which the Pentagon's military intelligence wing said there was "no reliable information" that Iraq was producing new chemical weapons at the time.
The report said there was intelligence suggesting that Saddam Hussein was distributing chemical weapons in advance of a possible war, and concluded, "Although we lack any direct information, Iraq probably possesses CW [chemical weapons] agent in chemical munitions."
The document from the Pentagon's military intelligence wing came as the Bush administration was working to win international backing for tough action against Saddam, who Bush said had weapons of mass destruction that he would willingly give to terrorist groups.
DIA Director Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby said Friday that though his agency "could not specifically pin down individual facilities operating as part of the weapons of mass destruction programs, specifically the chemical warfare portion," it did not doubt that such a program was active or "part of the Iraqi WMD [weapons of mass destruction] infrastructure."
The DIA joined in the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Saddam's regime had a program to develop weapons of mass destruction, Jacoby said.
Sources familiar with the full report emphasized that it focused on activities in Iraq after U.N. weapons inspectors left in 1998, and not earlier years when Iraq was known to have been producing chemical and biological weapons, which it later acknowledged.
A senior White House official said the DIA report "in its entirety is fully consistent with the case the U.S. made, the U.N. made, fully consistent with the public case made by other governments," as well as with Secretary of State Colin Powell's testimony to the United Nations and information U.N. weapons inspectors have provided, in its assessment that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that some remain unaccounted for.
White House officials said they did not know whether President Bush had seen the report, and said it is not likely that a document at this level would have reached his desk.
No evidence has been found to prove Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and some U.S. lawmakers have publicly questioned whether the Bush administration slanted or manipulated intelligence data to build a case for war.
The Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees are reviewing classified background documents related to the administration's prewar statements.
Bush remains convinced that his decision to go to war was correct and based on accurate intelligence, White House officials said Friday.
Here are selections from the one-page summary:
• "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons or where Iraq has -- or will -- establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities."
• "Unusual munitions transfer activity in mid-2002 suggests that Iraq is distributing CW [chemical weapons] munitions in preparation for an anticipated attack."
• "Iraq retains all the chemicals and equipment to produce the blister agent mustard, but its ability for sustained production of G-series nerve agents and VX is constrained by its stockpile of key chemical precursors and by the destruction of all known CW production facilities during Operation Desert Storm and during subsequent [U.N.] inspections. In the absence of external aid, Iraq will likely experience difficulties in producing nerve agents at the rate executed before Operation Desert Storm."
• "Iraq is steadily establishing a dual-use industrial chemical infrastructure that provides some of the building blocks necessary for production of chemical agents."
• "Baghdad is rebuilding portions of its chemical production infrastructure under the guise of a civilian need for pesticides, chlorine and other legitimate chemical products, giving Iraq the potential for a small 'breakout' production capability."
• "Although we lack any direct information, Iraq probably possesses CW agent in chemical munitions, possibly including artillery rockets, artillery shells, aerial bombs and ballistic missile warheads. Baghdad also probably possesses bulk chemical stockpiles, primarily containing precursors, but that also could consist of some mustard agent or stabilized VX."
• "Iraq is assessed to possess biological agent stockpiles that may be weaponized and ready for use. The size of those stockpiles is uncertain and subject to debate. The nature, size and condition of those stockpiles is also unknown."
Critics in Europe also have raised questions, forcing British Prime Minister Tony Blair to defend his support for the U.S.-led invasion. Spain's opposition Socialist Party has formally requested that Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar explain to parliament what happened to Iraq's reputed weapons of mass destruction. (Report: British WMD source a top Iraqi, Blair faces probe over WMD threat, Aznar pressed on WMD)
-- CNN Pentagon correspondents Barbara Starr and Jamie McIntyre, and White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, contributed to this report.