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Bush Distorted Prewar Intel

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    Bush Distorted Prewar Intel, Report Says By Randall Mikkelsen, Reuters http://news.aol.com/story/_a/bush-distorted-prewar-intel-report-
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 13, 2008
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      Bush Distorted Prewar Intel, Report Says
      By Randall Mikkelsen,
      Reuters
      http://news.aol.com/story/_a/bush-distorted-prewar-intel-report-
      says/20080605181509990001


      WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush and his top policymakers
      misstated Saddam Hussein's links to terrorism and ignored doubts
      among intelligence agencies about Iraq's arms programs as they made
      a case for war, the Senate intelligence committee reported on
      Thursday.


      Getty Images
      Bush's claims that Saddam Hussein was prepared to arm terrorists
      with weapons of mass destruction contradicted intelligence, a report
      says.


      The report shows an administration that "led the nation to war on
      false premises," said the committee's Democratic Chairman, Sen. John
      Rockefeller of West Virginia. Several Republicans on the committee
      protested its findings as a "partisan exercise."

      The committee studied major speeches by Bush, Vice President Dick
      Cheney and other officials in advance of the U.S.-led invasion of
      Iraq in March 2003, and compared key assertions with intelligence
      available at the time.

      Statements that Iraq had a partnership with al Qaeda were wrong and
      unsupported by intelligence, the report said.

      It said that Bush's and Cheney's assertions that Saddam was prepared
      to arm terrorist groups with weapons of mass destruction for attacks
      on the United States contradicted available intelligence.

      Such assertions had a strong resonance with a U.S. public, still
      reeling after al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on the United
      States. Polls showed that many Americans believed Iraq played a role
      in the attacks, even long after Bush acknowledged in September 2003
      that there was no evidence Saddam was involved.

      The report also said administration prewar statements on Iraq's
      weapons programs were backed up in most cases by available U.S.
      intelligence, but officials failed to reflect internal debate over
      those findings, which proved wrong.

      PUBLIC CAMPAIGN

      The long-delayed Senate study supported previous reports and
      findings that the administration's main cases for war -- that Iraq
      had weapons of mass destruction and was spreading them to
      terrorists -- were inaccurate and deeply flawed.

      "The president and his advisors undertook a relentless public
      campaign in the aftermath of the (September 11) attacks to use the
      war against al Qaeda as a justification for overthrowing Saddam
      Hussein," Rockefeller said in written commentary on the report.

      "Representing to the American people that the two had an operational
      partnership and posed a single, indistinguishable threat was
      fundamentally misleading and led the nation to war on false
      premises."

      A statement to Congress by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
      that the Iraqi government hid weapons of mass destruction in
      facilities underground was not backed up by intelligence
      information, the report said. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon
      said Rumsfeld's comments should be investigated further, but he
      stopped short of urging a criminal probe.

      The committee voted 10-5 to approve the report, with two Republican
      lawmakers supporting it. Sen. Christopher Bond of Missouri and three
      other Republican panel members denounced the study in an attached
      dissent.

      "The committee finds itself once again consumed with political
      gamesmanship," the Republicans said. The effort to produce the
      report "has indeed resulted in a partisan exercise." They said,
      however, that the report demonstrated that Bush administration
      statements were backed by intelligence and "it was the intelligence
      that was faulty."

      White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said: "We had the intelligence
      that we had, fully vetted, but it was wrong. We certainly regret
      that and we've taken measures to fix it."

      PUBLIC SUPPORT

      U.S. public opinion on the war, supportive at first, has soured,
      contributing to a dive in Bush's popularity.

      The conflict is likely to be a key issue in the November
      presidential election between Republican John McCain, who supports
      the war, and Democrat Barack Obama, who opposed the war from the
      start and says he would aim to pull U.S. troops out within 16 months
      of taking office in January 2009.

      Rockefeller has announced his support for Obama.

      The administration's record in making its case for Iraq has also
      been cited by critics of Bush's get-tough policy on Iran. They
      accuse Bush of overstating the potential threat of Iran's nuclear
      program in order to justify the possible use of force.

      A second report by the committee faulted the administration's
      handling of December 2001 Rome meetings between defense officials
      and Iranian informants, which dealt with the Iran issue. It said
      department officials failed to share intelligence from the meeting,
      which Rockefeller said demonstrated a "fundamental disdain" for
      other intelligence agencies.


      Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan, Donna Smith; editing by
      Frances Kerry

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