Blair has to contend with
a severe loss of credibility

A total of 58 percent said they believed London and Washington misled the public over the threat posed by Iraq with 39 percent disagreeing, according to the survey published in "The Times".

 

Some 34 percent of the respondents to the “Populus” poll said they would be less inclined to trust UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in future, because of this.

 

Meanwhile, in an apparent attempt to stem rising criticism over its goof-up on the presumed presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) took action against two of its key officials.

 

The agency transferred the two officials in a gesture of rebuke for their erroneous assessment of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.

 

Deep exile

 

The officials, whose names were not revealed, have been sent into “deep exile”, the newspaper said, quoting a CIA source.

 

An agency spokesman, however, claimed the transfers were routine.

 

One of the officials was transferred to the CIA’s personnel department. He headed the Iraq Task Force, a special unit that provided support to military commanders during the invasion.

 

The other official, a longtime analyst who headed the agency’s Iraq Issue Group responsible for analyzing intelligence, was sent to Iraq on an extended mission.

 

The United States administration in recent weeks has been embarrassed by the absence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), touted as a key reason for invading Iraq.