Thursday, June 12, 2003

GOP rejects Democratic call for probe on Iraq weapons intelligence

KEN GUGGENHEIM, Associated Press Writer Wednesday, June 11, 2003
(06-11) 20:35 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

Congressional Republicans on Wednesday rejected Democratic calls for a formal investigation into intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs, contending that such a probe could harm intelligence agencies' work.

The majority Republicans said routine oversight by Congress' Intelligence and Armed Services committees will be adequate to evaluate intelligence findings that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Those findings served as the basis for the war on Iraq, but no such weapons have been found.

The inability of Democrats and Republicans to agree on an inquiry deepens partisan divisions in an area with potential consequences in the 2004 election: whether prewar intelligence on Iraq was inaccurate or had been manipulated to make the case for war.

Republican lawmakers say there is no evidence of wrongdoing and an investigation would suggest "there's something dreadfully wrong and you're going to have to set things straight," said Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Roberts, R-Kan., said his committee will evaluate prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and its connection to terrorist groups. It will examine whether the findings were reasonable and accurate. The CIA has begun submitting details of the intelligence that supported administration claims on the weapons.

"If it proves out that there is some concern and some kind of egregious mistake, why obviously, we'll go further with that with further action," Roberts said.

The committee's top Democrat, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, said he will continue pressing Roberts for an investigation.

"What they appear to be doing is entirely inadequate and slow-paced and potentially kind of sleepwalking through history," he said.


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