A national conference scheduled for July to pick members of an interim government has been canceled. The conference was initially supposed to occur in May or June but was recently pushed back.
Now, the planned meeting of 300 delegates is off altogether.
Instead, the U.S. will name 25 to 30 Iraqis to a council by the middle of next month that will nominate ministers for different government departments. The U.S. administration may over time turn power over to these ministers.
Meanwhile, a separate committee will draft a constitution to pave the way for elections. Reports in the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post did not point to any timetable for voting.
The Times reports U.S. officials made the move in order to prevent Iraqi exile groups from dominating a national conference. There have been worries about how representative the exile groups are of average Iraqis who've lived in the country in recent years.
In other developments:
Two Senate committees want to investigate whether U.S. intelligence accurately pointed to banned weapons in Iraq as claimed by the Bush administration in going to war, senators said Sunday.
More than 11 weeks have passed without conclusive evidence of an Iraqi program to develop weapons of mass destruction, senators said, and it's time to investigate whether intelligence reports saying so were correct.
An investigation doesn't mean senators think that something was done incorrectly, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said on CNN.
"By the fact that we're just investigating it, should not in any way indicate that we're putting any credibility doubt against" the CIA or the Bush administration, Warner said.
He said his committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee might look jointly into the situation.
"I think it cannot go uninvestigated, because big nations have two things: they have their word and they have their credibility," Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on CBS News' Face the Nation.
"Our credibility is going to be called into question in other parts of the world" if nothing is found, he said.
One member of the Intelligence panel, Sen. Bob Graham, running for the Democratic presidential nomination from Florida, went further than other senators in declaring on CNN that the government might have willfully distributed erroneous information on Iraq's arsenal.
"If we don't find these weapons of mass destruction, it will represent a serious intelligence failure or the manipulation of that intelligence to keep the American people in the dark," Graham said.
The Bush administration's main argument for the Iraq invasion was that deposed President Saddam Hussein held chemical and biological weapons and possibly was developing nuclear weapons. All were banned to Iraq under sanctions imposed by the United Nations after in August 1990 after Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait and by subsequent U.N. resolutions.
Mr. Bush faced the question again Sunday in a news conference at St. Petersburg, Russia, as he ended an official visit. He seemed to have told a Polish television reporter Thursday that U.S. searchers had found weapons in the form of two mobile laboratories that the Americans say were to manufacture biological weapons.
"We've discovered weapons systems, biological labs, that Iraq denied she had, and labs that were prohibited under the U.N. resolutions," Mr. Bush said.
CIA Director George Tenet defended his agency's work. "The integrity of our process was maintained throughout, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong," he said Friday.
Asked about the quality of intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the weapons were there. "There's no doubt in my mind that the evidence was overwhelming," he said.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says evidence that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction is "overwhelming."
But a senior Russian diplomat is calling on the United States to produce any evidence it has. Russia's deputy foreign minister Yuri Fedotov says it's time to close the issue.