Senate panel to resume WMD probe

Republican senators in the US have said they are willing to look afresh into 'exaggerated' pre-war claims that Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction.

    The probe will focus on whether Bush twisted evidence on Iraq

    A Senate panel's probe into the WMD claims, which President George Bush had used as a pretext to invade Iraq, was stopped six

    weeks ago amid a partisan row.

    Over nine months after the US-led invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein, President Bush and his allies have yet to uncover any WMDs.

    "I think we will have, hopefully, some public hearings by February," Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said on

    CBS's Face the Nation programme.

    "We will get those questions out."

    No banned weapons have been found in Iraq despite intense searches by various inspection teams.

    The Senate committee had been taking a fresh look at the pre-war intelligence and whether the Bush administration twisted data to bring

    about regime change in Iraq.

    But hearings into the matter were suspended in November, after Senate Republicans, citing a leaked Democratic strategy paper, accused Democrats of trying to exploit the probe for political gain.

    Now, Roberts has struck a conciliatory posture, saying that he has been in touch with the ranking committee Democrat, Senator John

    Rockefeller, and other members to find a way forward.

    The change of heart came after the CIA admitted last month that it "lacked specific information" about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction

    when it compiled a 2002 intelligence estimate that served to justify the invasion.

    Republicans embarrassed

    Meanwhile, Republicans have found themselves on the back foot after Bush, when asked in a television interview last week whether he

    had evidence about Iraqi weapons or just feared Baghdad may acquire them, replied: "So what's the difference?"

    "There is a huge difference between having something and seeking something"

    Democrat Senator Carl Levin

    Senator Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the remark was "a stunning revelation" of Bush's

    "thinking and of his decision to go to war".

    "There is a huge difference between having something and seeking something," Levin said.

    Democratic Senator Joseph Biden said it was important to
    complete the Iraqi weapons review to maintain US credibility in the world at

    large.

    "The idea that we're going to go in next time and say, by the way, Kim Jong II in North Korea's about to do the following, who the heck's

    going to believe us?" Biden asked in a CBS interview.

    But General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed confidence that weapons of mass destruction would be

    eventually found the same way US troops caught up with deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein - through cooperation of Iraqi individuals.

    "The same thing's going to be true in WMD," Myers said in an interview with Fox News Sunday.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Assad to Putin: Thank you for 'saving our country'

    Assad to Putin: Thank you for 'saving our country'

    Russian and Syrian presidents meet to discuss strategy against 'terrorism' and political settlement options.

    Is Saudi Arabia becoming a danger to the region?

    Is Saudi Arabia becoming a danger to the region?

    We talk to US Congressman Ro Khanna about power politics and debate Mohammed bin Salman's new strategy for the Kingdom.

    Gender violence in India: 'Daughters are not a burden'

    Gender violence in India: 'Daughters are not a burden'

    With female foeticide still widespread, one woman tells her story of being mutilated for giving birth to her daughters.