Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Hide and go to war
Did the Bush administration consciously hide intelligence on possible Iraqi weapons caches from UN weapons inspectors, in order to discredit the inspections regime? That is what the Washington Post wonders in this story by Walter Pincus published Sunday.

The way the story is written, though, is a trifle odd. It starts off suggesting that U.S. intelligence agencies only have circumstantial evidence of banned Iraqi weapon, and notes:

"The assertions, coming on the eve of a possible decision by President Bush to go to war against Iraq, have raised concerns among some members of the intelligence community about whether administration officials have exaggerated intelligence in a desire to convince the American public and foreign governments that Iraq is violating United Nations prohibitions against chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons and long-range missile systems."

But then, it changes tack to suggest "the administration is withholding some of the best intelligence on suspected Iraqi weapons -- uncertain as it is -- from U.N. weapons inspectors in anticipation of war."

Reportedly, CIA director George Tenet misled Congress on the amount of important information his agency had passed on to UN inspectors. That's why, the article continues, "some officials charge the administration is not interested in helping the inspectors discover weapons because a discovery could bolster supporters in the U.N. Security Council of continued inspections and undermine the administration's case for war."

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