"Coalition" distorted Iraq weapons reports

Australian Defence Minister, Robert Hill, admitted on Monday that intelligence reports claiming Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) may have been flawed.

    The US has resisted pressure to
    allow UN inspectors to return

    Hill told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper that Canberra had joined the US-led invasion on Iraq in March on the belief it was hiding banned weapons.

    “If it turns out there were flaws in what we understood then I think we ought to say there were flaws. But it’s too early to say that,” he said.

    The United States and Britain are increasingly facing allegations they distorted intelligence reports to exaggerate the alleged threat posed by deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

    However,the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said he was satisfied with the pre-war intelligence on Baghdad and rejected calls for a formal investigation into the matter.

    The failure of occupation troops to come up with evidence that Iraq possessed biological, chemical or nuclear weapons has proved to be embarrassing for the Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

    Assumptions

    Hill’s statement followed reports from Washington over the weekend that members of the US President George W Bush’s administration distorted intelligence reports about Iraq in order to go ahead with the war.

    Newsweek magazine reported the war against Iraq was based largely on assumptions rather than evidence, citing unnamed administration and intelligence officials.

    Time magazine also quoted a senior military officer as saying “there was a predisposition in this administration to assume the worst” about Hussein.

    “They were inclined to see and interpret evidence a particular way to support a very deeply held conviction,” he said.

    Rumsfeld is accused
    of distorting reports

    An unnamed army intelligence officer pinned responsibility for this on US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

    “Rumsfeld was deeply, almost pathologically, distorting the intelligence,” the officer told Time.

    Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials said they had thoroughly carried out searches for WMDs and nothing has yet surfaced.

    “We’ve been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad,” said Lieutenant General James Conway. “But they’re simply not there.”

    Time also reported that the Pentagon tended to jump to conclusions when the intelligence reports were unclear. 


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