Truth Of War Intelligence In Doubt

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, right, smiles next to US President George W. Bush, left, prior to the working session of the G8 heads of states and governments on Monday, June 2, 2003 in Evian, France. The G8 summit in Evian continues on Monday with discussions about measures to revive the sluggish global economy and halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction. AP

On both sides of the Atlantic today the debate over what happened to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction got nastier and nastier, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair took it on the chin, as leaders of the British Parliament handed down some vicious jabs.

"The Prime Minister misled Parliament and the country in the run-up to the war," said Conservative Leader Duncan Smith. "Nobody believes a word now that the Prime Minister is saying."

Meanwhile, overseas at the Pentagon, officials found themselves fending off accusations from reporters that they had ordered up tailor-made intelligence findings to justify the Iraqi invasion. U.S. government officials flatly deny any such action.

"This suggestion that we said to them 'This is what we're looking for, go find it,' is precisely the inaccuracy that we are here to rebut," said Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith.

The problem for both allies is still the same: that more than a month after the war ended, there's still no sign of Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological or nuclear weapons -- except for a pair of suspicious tractor trailer trucks that tested clean.

Now critics are questioning whether the intelligence about such weapons was exaggerated as a justification for the three-week war.

In the U.S., the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is investigating. In the British Parliament, a similar probe is underway. And CIA Director George Tenet has ordered an internal review of his own operatives by retired intelligence analysts.

Also at issue is the degree to which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld relied upon a small, Pentagon-based cell of intelligence analysts independent of the CIA.

The investigations could produce more than the usual finger-pointing, as there's something bigger than blame at stake, that being whether the U.S. intelligence gathering apparatus was politically pressured to see things that weren't there and say things that weren't so.
  • Lauren Johnston

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