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Senate To Issue Anticipated Iraq Data

The Senate intelligence committee on Friday will issue a report, two years in the making, that Democrats on the panel say will prove that misuse of intelligence played a role in the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq.

"Ultimately, I think you will find that administration officials made repeated prewar statements that were not supported by underlying intelligence," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the committee's top Democrat.

The 400-page study, to be released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, will examine how intelligence analysts and officials used information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, a group opposed to President Saddam Hussein that had financial backing from the United States.

It will also compare prewar assessments of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction program with the postwar discovery that no such program existed.

The report, expected to reiterate the overestimation of the WMD threat and the questionable reliance of intelligence agencies on Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi, comes out in the same week that President George W. Bush is emphasizing the importance of the Iraq campaign to his worldwide campaign against terror.

Republican members of the intelligence committee would not comment on the report Thursday, but Democrats, who have been pushing for its release, said it backed up their argument that Bush's case for war in Iraq was misleading.

Rockefeller said the report reveals that "the administration pursued a deceptive strategy abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances fabricated."

Democrats have argued that Chalabi, in his campaign to topple Saddam, fed U.S. intelligence agencies information that exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq's WMD capabilities. Republicans have countered that Chalabi's influence was limited.

The panel issued Phase I of the report, identifying failures in intelligence-gathering, in July 2004.

Democrats, dissatisfied with the scope of that study, pushed for a second study that would delve into how senior policymakers used intelligence to steer the country toward war.

Last November, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., temporarily shut down Senate operations, demanding a closed-door session to discuss the report and the delay in its release.

The information to be released Friday includes only two of the less-controversial parts of the five studies under that Phase II. Rockefeller said a third part, on the prewar intelligence assessment of postwar Iraq, might be issued this month.

Partisan differences have delayed release of any analysis on the more politically sensitive issue of how administration officials used intelligence. "We continue our work on the remaining part of our Phase II inquiry," said the committee's Republican chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts.

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