Bush, Blair criticised over war reasons

A British intelligence watchdog and US congressmen intensified their criticism of their respective governments on Tuesday for possible inaccurate claims on Iraq’s banned weapons programme.

    Blair and Bush face growing
    pressure to show WMD evidence

    The “dodgy dossier,” as it has been dubbed by the British media – refers to the one of three reports published by the UK government on Iraq’s alleged weapons programme.

    Much of the document was plagiarised from a student thesis which cited 10-year-old data.

    The Intelligence and Security Committee said UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s document, which set out reasons for war on Iraq – had not been cleared with the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).

    "It is imperative that the agencies are consulted before any of their material is published," the committee said in its annual report. "This process was not followed".

    Last Sunday in an effort to pre-empt MI6’s report Blair’s communication chief Alastair Campbell apologised to MI6 chief Richard Dearlove.

    He promised to take “greater care” in the future when publishing intelligence material.

    But an inquiry is being opened to investigate claims that the government pressured intelligence chiefs to “sex up” an earlier dossier which was to serve as evidence of Saddam Hussein’s alleged biological and chemical weapons stockpile.

    "There is not a shred of evidence, absolutely no evidence at all, that we have doctored or manipulated intelligence," Blair told a news conference on Tuesday. "That would be absolutely gross if we did so. We have not done so."

    The parliamentary committee which reports directly to Blair, said it was too soon to deliver a full verdict on the role of intelligence in the Iraq war.

    US President Bush still believes
    Iraq possesses banned weapons

    Possible US hearings

    A US Senate committee will also investigate the validity of intelligence information about the threat Iraq posed.

    Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, said on NBC that a "very thorough investigation" was needed into why the United States went to war against Iraq, given that weapons of mass destruction have yet to be uncovered.

    "We need to have a very thorough investigation into what happened that caused the president to go ahead and proceed with the war," he said, adding that a joint hearing by the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees would be best.

    Republican Senator John McCain backed the suggestion. “It is entirely appropriate for the Congress to hold oversight hearings," he said, adding any delay would not be in the interests of the American people.

    Democrats and Republicans are currently negotiating with the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican Senator Pat Roberts.

    Last week he said he would review intelligence documents provided by the administration before deciding to proceed with hearings.

    Pressure has been mounting on the Bush and Blair administrations to show evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

    It was the leading issue that US and UK politicians used to justify the war.

    Two months have passed since the toppling of Saddam Hussein, but no banned weapons have been found.


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