General John Abizaid, tipped to succeed Tommy Franks as the chief of the US Central Command this month end, finds intelligence on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction “perplexingly incomplete”.
Abizaid told a US Senate hearing on Wednesday that he together with other US commanders expected to come across Iraqi chemical weapons as they neared Baghdad.
But with the expectations bellied, Abizaid admitted that the US intelligence may not have been absolutely correct.
“That we didn’t get it completely right is what I consider to be a fact,” he told the hearing.
The hearing is aimed to confirm his appointment as the head of the Central Command.
“The overall intelligence was the most accurate that I have ever seen on the tactical level, probably the best I have ever seen on the operational level, and perplexingly incomplete on the strategic level with regard to weapons of mass destruction,” Abizaid said.
“But it is perplexing to me, senator, that we have not found weapons of mass destruction when the evidence was so pervasive that it would exist,” Abizaid confessed.
But the general still gave a clean chit to US intelligence.
“I firmly believe that there was no distortion of the intelligence,” Abizaid said. “I really believe that the intelligence community did their best to give us their best judgement about what they thought and that’s what happened,” he added.
Abizaid expressed confidence that current efforts in Iraq would expose the deception of Saddam Hussein and lead to the discovery of weapons of mass destruction. But he said it would take time.