ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee wound up its long investigation into the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq. The committee found the Bush administration sometimes ignored or misrepresented intelligence which undermined the case for war. The White House promptly disputed that charge, and some Republicans accused Democrats of playing politics with the investigation.
NPR's Tom Gjelten reports.
TOM GJELTEN: This investigation began four years ago. It was widened after the Democrats took control of the Senate early last year. This final report, for example, also addresses a secret Pentagon intelligence gathering effort, one the CIA didn't even know about. But committee chairman Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia drew attention at the most controversial issue, whether the administration's pre-war claims about the Iraq threat were really supported by the available pre-war intelligence.
Senator JAY ROCKEFELLER (Democrat, West Virginia): We announced today that a bipartisan majority of the Senate Intelligence Committee has found that in making the case for war the administration did go well beyond what the intelligence community knew and what it believed.
GJELTEN: The report, which was approved by two Republican members as well as the committee Democrats, found that some administration statements were fully supported by the available intelligence. But the committee says the administration made some claims without making clear that intelligence analysts disagreed among themselves about their accuracy. In 2002, the State Department's intelligence department challenged a report that Saddam Hussein's regime was developing nuclear weapons. But President Bush, speaking about Iraq that year, made no mention of that disagreement.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.
GJELTEN: In fact, that was not true. Another example: official CIA reporting in 2002 said the Iraqi regime's connections with al-Qaida were tenuous, but President Bush's comments on the Iraq/al-Qaida relationship did not reflect that analysis.
Pres. BUSH: The danger is, is that they work in concert.
GJELTEN: Not only had the CIA stopped well short of saying Iraq and al-Qaida work in concert, seven months earlier the agency was reporting that divergent ideologies made it difficult for al-Qaida and the Iraq regime to forge a cooperative relationship. Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee did not disagree that administration statements were sometimes inconsistent with the intelligence, but Kit Bond of Missouri said committee Democrats should have looked at their own pre-war statements as vigorously as they analyzed administration claims.
Senator KIT BOND (Republican, Missouri): They, the Democrats, also read the intelligence assessments and came away with the same impression that the rest of us did, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, was seeking nuclear weapons, and supported terrorism. They came to the same conclusion: Iraq was a going threat the United States could no longer afford to ignore.
GJELTEN: Senator Jay Rockefeller was one of those Democrats who before the war agreed with the administration that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a threat. But he said today that the president and senior administration officials, not members of Congress, bore responsibility for deciding to go to war and for convincing the American people to support the move.
Sen. ROCKEFELLER: Making the case for war is categorically different than any other approach to public policy. There is nothing more serious in public life than the decision to go to war.
GJELTEN: White House spokesman Dana Perino today vigorously disputed the claim that the administration deliberately misrepresented the Iraq intelligence in making the public case for war. The fact that the intelligence turned out to be wrong on Iraq having weapons of mass destruction does not mean, she said, that anyone purposely lied. On one issue, all sides are in agreement - the disconnect between what was alleged about Saddam Hussein's Iraq and what turned out to be true means that everyone - the administration, the Congress and the intelligence community itself - need to be far more careful in coming to conclusions that lead the nation to war.
Tom Gjelten, NPR News, Washington.
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