David Kay: WMDs That Never Were, A War That Ever Was
LIANE HANSEN, Host:
We spoke with David Kay the weekend after his resignation reverberated around Washington and the world. And this is what he said.
DAVID KAY: Because of the breakdown of social and political order at the end of the war, and rioting and looting continued unchecked for at least two months, we're going to be left with ambiguity as to what we found. My summary view, based on what I've seen, is that we are very unlikely to find stockpiles, large stockpiles of weapons. I don't think they exist.
HANSEN: David Kay, it is really nice to see you again.
KAY: So here we are, eight years after the Iraq War began. America's combat mission there has since ended. The weapons stockpiles were never found, they likely never existed. Do you feel vindicated?
KAY: We've taken our eye off Iraq. We're now worried about Afghanistan. I'm actually far more concerned about the state of survival and stability in Iraq, as we leave Iraq by the end of the year.
HANSEN: How did that experience change you? I mean for a time, you were caught in the middle of a political fight about the pretense for the Iraq War?
KAY: Oh, what I miss most are the friendships that were shattered by that; just had staked too much of their career on there being weapons of mass destruction. And not only didn't we find them, we found they didn't exist prior to the war.
HANSEN: How do you think that kind of faulty intelligence can be prevented, moving ahead?
KAY: The intelligence service has been merged essentially because we're at war with the Defense Department. And it's a combating terrorism organization, not one that looks strategically around the world to warn political leaders of what is over the horizon and they may have to deal with.
HANSEN: Where does al-Qaida figure into your threat assessment, given the fact that Osama bin Laden is dead?
KAY: On the other, there are others - the demographic status in that whole region is one that's genuinely frightened. I mean, to realize that Yemen at the end of this century, if the course doesn't change, will be the second largest country in the Middle East and yet it has no economy at all. There are frightening things there.
HANSEN: Do you think the U.S. is taking proper action to address the threats you've outlined? I mean you've given your criticism of the intelligence community, but otherwise in terms of, say, foreign-policy, diplomacy.
KAY: I am worried too much we focus on al-Qaida, jihadists. And we, of course - and I understand why - we're worried about what happens to Afghanistan because of the large American presence there.
HANSEN: For you that passion is photography. What does it do for you?
KAY: Well, look. It's just the nature of my personality. Something has to fire me continuously. That's just the way I am. I can't sit back and relax.
HANSEN: Does it keep you sane, optimistic?
KAY: I think the American people should really be proud, not only of the courage and heroism of the people on the battlefield but their families who are behind living, and those who are left by tragic deaths. It's something that deeply moves you but moves you in a very positive way.
HANSEN: Thanks for coming in. It's really good to see you again.
KAY: Thank you, Liane, very happy to be here.
HANSEN: You're listening to NPR News.
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