CNN BREAKING NEWS
DIA Report Summary on Iraqi WMD Made Available
Aired June 6, 2003 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: There is breaking news at the Pentagon, a developing story that Barbara Starr is all over.
Live to Barbara right now for an update -- Barbara, what do you have?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, there is a new report. It is a report that was actually done last year. But CNN has obtained an unclassified today summary of this 2002 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency and they have some pretty unusual conclusions about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, or at least, let's say, candid conclusions.
The report says, quoting, that "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."
So the DIA in 2002, when the administration was making a very strong public case about the imminent threat from Iraq, said it had no reliable information.
Now, this is a typical intelligence agency document, I must tell you. It's very heavily caveated. There's a lot of on the one hand, but on the other hand. The report does say that there was, quoting, "some unusual activity" last year suggesting Iraq was distributing chemical munitions in anticipation of a U.S. attack, but that is just some of the information.
The report also said that Iraq did have chemicals and equipment to produce mustard agent, but that that was it, that it could not produce nerve agent or VX agent because it lacked the chemicals and it lacked the facilities to do it, that those had been long destroyed in other U.S. air attacks.
So the bottom line is in mid-2002 the Defense Intelligence Agency said it lacked direct information about Iraq's chemical weapons program and that it was unsure about its biological weapons program.
But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is still defending the intelligence. Yesterday, here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: My observation on the intelligence, although it's not my business, but I read it, is that it's been good, it's been enriched as they've gone through this past period of years and that I believe that the presentation made by Secretary Powell was accurate and will be proved to be accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: So the DIA report just another piece in this whole puzzle that's emerging about whether the administration really had certain knowledge that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when it was making a very public case last year to the U.S. public that there was a direct and imminent threat -- Bill.
HEMMER: Barbara, a couple of things. Help me understand who would see this document. Does this come out of the Pentagon? Does this have anything to do with the CIA and its intelligence? Are they linked together or not?
STARR: This was a report done last year by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which, of course, resides here in the Pentagon. It was an operational support study, which meant it was a piece of analysis that the DIA was giving to the intelligence community, to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, to the president, possibly to the CIA. It was the military take on the intelligence, looking at all the information and trying to come to some conclusions.
And this is really the dilemma in intelligence. Intelligence professionals very rarely come to adamant, concrete conclusions. Their feeling is unless they've got it in front of them, unless they see the exact evidence, unless it's sitting right in front of them, they will always caveat it. So that's something to keep in mind.
But it's very interesting that they came to these conclusions, as I say, last year when the administration, the political side of the house, as it were, was being very adamant and very certain in its public statements.
HEMMER: And, Barbara, quickly here, you mentioned the White House. Is there a guarantee that the White House would have seen this document or not?
STARR: No. No guarantees. There is certainly, you know, hundreds, if not thousands of pieces of intelligence analysis that come out of the intelligence community. They go through many channels and as they go up the chain of command, as it were, they are summarized, they are put into other documents. It's not at all clear where this piece of information would have gone.
HEMMER: And also how it ultimately scores with what the CIA was looking at, as well.
Barbara, thank you.
Barbara Starr at the Pentagon with breaking news from there.
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