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Committee: No politics in prewar intelligence

But Democrats complain probe wasn't broad enough

CIA Director George Tenet said Thursday the National Intelligence Estimate in October 2002 never characterized Iraq as an
CIA Director George Tenet said Thursday the National Intelligence Estimate in October 2002 never characterized Iraq as an "imminent threat."

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George Tenet summarizes CIA's prewar intelligence on Iraq.
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CNN's Wolf Blitzer talks to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts about CIA Director George Tenet's speech.
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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's comments on prewar intelligence.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee's review of U.S. intelligence has found no evidence that political pressure shaped reports on Iraq before last year's invasion, the committee's Republican chairman reported Thursday.

The panel's ranking Democrat called for a broader probe.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the committee's chairman, said intelligence agencies worldwide assumed Iraq would attempt to revive efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, which it was required to give up after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

He compared the intelligence to "a train that just kept moving."

"While there may have been other bits of information or intelligence that would say, 'Whoa, wait a minute, we need to stop the train,' it never really stopped," Roberts said.

"Virtually every intelligence agency, including the U.N., came up with the same assumption, that there would be stockpiles of WMD."

Committee members received copies of the panel's draft report Thursday afternoon.

Democrats have complained repeatedly that the committee has focused on rank-and-file intelligence officers rather than how the information they processed was used to build support for last year's U.S.-led invasion.

Among those who have complained is the committee's vice chairman, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia.

"The committee must prepare a comprehensive comparison of public statements made by senior policymakers to the underlying intelligence in order to determine whether officials exaggerated or misrepresented intelligence in making the case for war," Rockefeller said in a statement.

The Bush administration argued in late 2002 that Iraq was maintaining stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and was attempting to restart efforts to develop a nuclear device in violation of U.N. resolutions requiring it to disarm.

Administration officials and President Bush warned that Iraq could supply weapons of mass destruction to terrorists to use against the United States.

But nearly 10 months after U.S. troops ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, no such weapons have been found. And last week, the Bush's former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kay, told a Senate committee he now believes it unlikely such weapons could be found in Iraq. (Full story)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said the committee failed to examine whether the Bush administration willfully used bad intelligence to make the case for war.

Feinstein, who voted to back the use of military force to disarm Iraq, said opposition senators have been shut out of the investigation.

The use that was made of the intelligence "is the cauldron boiling beneath the surface ... about which the Senate Intelligence Committee is prohibited from looking at," she said.

Roberts said committee staff members interviewed more than 200 people, "and not one person to date in very tough interviews has indicated any coercion or any intimidation or anything political."

In a speech Thursday morning at Georgetown University, CIA Director George Tenet rejected suggestions that political pressure influenced the CIA's assessment of Iraq, saying, "We will always call it as we see it." (Full story)

Tenet also discounted published reports that Bush administration officials who advocated an invasion of Iraq bypassed the agency to present dubious intelligence to Bush and other top officials.

"I can tell you with certainty that the president of the United States gets his intelligence from one person and one community: me," Tenet said.

"He has told me firmly and directly that he's wanted it straight and he's wanted it honest and he's never wanted the facts shaded."

But Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, called for Tenet's resignation after his remarks.

"In January 2003, he allowed President Bush to include the fraudulent claim about yellowcake uranium from Niger in the State of the Union address," said Markey, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

"In February 2003, he sat behind Colin Powell as he systematically presented intelligence on Iraqi WMD that was alarmist and untrue.

"Later in February 2003, he did not clarify the CIA's intelligence position when the on-the-ground U.N. weapons inspectors reported their negative findings," Markey said.

Tenet, Markey said, "ignored all of these opportunities and others to tell Congress and the American people that Saddam was not an imminent threat to the U.S."

Tenet said Thursday the CIA never characterized the Iraqi threat as imminent. But Feinstein said the information presented to Congress before the war "created an impression that there was an imminent threat."

"I don't think there would have been 77 votes in the United States Senate to authorize the use of force had these statements not been made," she said.


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