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U.S. official: Congress to get CIA's Iraqi WMD report

Data were basis for Powell's prewar U.N. presentation

From Pam Benson
CNN Washington Bureau

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell waves to reporters Monday after arriving in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell waves to reporters Monday after arriving in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Amid questions from numerous lawmakers, the CIA will soon provide Congress the "underlying intelligence which was the basis" for evidence about Iraq's weapons programs, a U.S. official said.

The official said the CIA will cooperate fully with a request by Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and provide information on the intelligence, including the basis for Secretary of State Colin Powell's pre-war presentation to the United Nations.

Some in Congress have complained that no proof of weapons of mass destruction -- the central U.S. argument for war -- has been found in Iraq.

"This wasn't material I was making up, it came from the intelligence community," Powell said Monday of his presentation to the United Nations on February 5. "The case we put forward on the fifth of February reflected an effort on our part to distill down the huge volume of material on weapons of mass destruction. ... There was a lot of additional information that was very solid and substantiated that I didn't use because I didn't have time to use it all, and anything that we weren't totally comfortable with, we didn't use."

Powell said solid intelligence often does not have multiple sources. "But in this case, because of the attention that was being focused on the briefing, and the importance of the briefing, I wanted to make sure that it was solid information, multiple-sourced, and reflected the considered and unanimous view of the intelligence community analysts who are responsible for it."

Powell and other top officials say proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq will be found, but it might take time.

The intelligence official said elements of Iraq's weapons program have been found, citing the recently discovered trailers that the Bush administration says were mobile facilities to produce biological weapons.

The official added that the Iraqis were engaged in "an elaborate denial and deception effort" and that it is "really no surprise" that more weapons have not been found. "We were well aware of [Iraq's] effort to mask and disguise" weapons of mass destruction, said the official, who is "still confident some stuff will be found."

The official would not comment on the various news accounts of what transpired in meetings leading up to Powell's U.N. presentation or on the question of whether the information had been politicized by Bush administration officials.

The official referred to CIA Director George Tenet's statement defending the integrity and objectivity of the CIA analysis of Iraq's weapons program. The official added that the CIA's role "is to provide information. What [administration officials] do with it is their prerogative," and they "can choose where to place emphasis."

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