CBSN

White House Ignores Intel Deadline

WMD -- weapons of mass destruction, Iraq, magnifying glas
CBS/AP
Bush administration officials said Friday they were cooperating with a Senate panel's demand for documents and interviews for an inquiry on prewar intelligence on Iraq.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee agreed that some agencies had given "what I believe is a good-faith response," but Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., criticized the White House for ignoring a noon Friday deadline for turning over materials.

"I am hopeful that the White House will recognize the importance of the committee's efforts and comply as soon as possible," Roberts said in a statement. "I look forward to working with the White House in a cooperative manner in hopes of reaching a satisfactory conclusion."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan insisted the administration has been working with the committee and will continue to do so even though the committee has no jurisdiction over the White House. He was noncommittal about the administration's intention to provide specific assistance.

"We are talking with them about their request, and we will continue working with them," he said.

Roberts and Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the committee's top Democrat, had set the Friday deadline for material it had sought from the White House, CIA, State Department and Pentagon. The last three were notified of the deadline only on Thursday.

"The noon deadline was really intended not so much as a precise date in history but to put a shot over their collective bows," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the panel's top Democrat.

In the letters setting the deadline, Rockefeller and Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., complained about the agencies' slow responses to the committee's previous requests for information.

The committee is examining the accuracy of intelligence on former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's weapons programs and his purported contacts with terror groups. That intelligence served as Mr. Bush's main arguments for the war.

Rockefeller said the committee was making strong progress Friday toward getting the requested material. "The CIA has already sent us a substantial amount of material," and more was to come, he said.

Committee staff members were reviewing the responses Friday afternoon.

The State Department said it has provided 11 of 15 documents requested by the committee. Two other documents will be submitted soon, and the two remaining ones will go out "as soon as we can," department spokesman Richard Boucher said. Arrangements also have been made for six interviews and briefings the committee requested, Boucher said.

"We have cooperated," he said.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said the agency was working hard to meet the committee's requests.

"We will be providing a significant amount of material today, and more will be forthcoming," he said.

A Pentagon spokesman said the only issues outstanding with the committee were questions from one unidentified senator, "and we are in the process of answering those questions."

Rockefeller said if the committee wasn't satisfied with the responses, he and Roberts might personally contact heads of the agencies. They might also decide to subpoena the information, he said.