where's the weapons we invaded iraq for?

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    Lack of hard evidence dismays both sides in Congress

    Democrats reluctant to fund further weapons search

    Julian Borger in Washington
    Friday October 3, 2003
    The Guardian

    The clear absence of anything resembling a "smoking gun" in yesterday's report on the hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction dismayed Democrats and Republicans alike.
    However, the US Congress appeared split on party lines on whether to approve the $600m the administration is asking for to continue the Iraq Survey Group's search.

    The leading Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, Jay Rockefeller, said: "To be where we are today, asking for another six to nine months and a good deal of money, leads me to believe we need to do some serious thinking about the doctrine of pre-emption, that we need to do some serious thinking about [how] did our intelligence allow us to get so that we could decide to go to war.

    "Did we misread it or did they mislead us or did they simply get it wrong?" Mr Rockefeller asked, adding: "Whatever the answer is, it's not a good answer."

    Even Pat Roberts, the Senate committee's chairman and normally a loyal Republican, could not hide his disappointment with the report. "I'm not pleased by what I heard today, but we should be willing to adopt a wait and see attitude - and that's the only alternative we really have," he said after hearing presentation yesterday by the ISG head, David Kay.

    Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, said last night "it will be unfortunate" if it turns out that intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq turns out to have been seriously flawed.

    Asked if he thought any banned weapons would still be found, he said: "It's not clear that it was off by a little bit, or a mile, at this stage. If it is off by a lot, that will be unfortunate and then we'll know that."

    The CIA director, George Tenet, rejected congressional allegations that the prewar intelligence assessments on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction had been seriously flawed.

    Two members of Congress, Republican Porter Goss and a Democrat, Jane Harman, had claimed in a letter to Mr Tenet that there were "significant deficiencies" in intelligence regarding Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaida, prior to the war.

    In his response, Mr Tenet said it was too soon for the house panel to reach any conclusions about the CIA's and others' prewar findings.

    Another Democratic senator, Bill Nelson, said that Mr Kay's report failed to deal with fundamental questions of timing. He asked: "Did Saddam used to have the weapons of mass destruction? Yes. But did he at the time that the administration said that he did? There hasn't been any evidence produced."

    He said: "Where are those unmanned aerial vehicles that we were told they could use? That anthrax could suddenly drop on American interests, including American cities. That's not there."

    Most Americans now believe the war was not worth it, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll released yesterday. Only 44% of those surveyed approved of George Bush's foreign policy performance, while 50% lacked confidence in his ability to handle an international crisis and 53% said they now believed the Iraq war was not worth it.
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