Bush over-stated Iraq 'threat'

US President George W Bush over-stated Iraq’s alleged links to al-Qaeda compared to US intelligence in an speech last October, reported the Washington Post on Sunday.

    Bush is under pressure to provide
    evidence Iraq posed a 'threat'

    A still-classified intelligence report included cautionary language about the alleged ties and warned about the reliability of some evidence, reported the US-based paper.

    The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq represented the consensus of the US intelligence community, according to intelligence analysts and congressional sources who read the report, said the Post.

    “There has always been an internal argument within the intelligence community about the connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda,” said a senior intelligence official, interviewed by the newspaper.

    In an October speech, Bush claimed Iraq posed an immediate threat to the United States. The US President alleged that Baghdad trained al-Qaeda members “in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases,” reported the Post.

    Bush’s speech failed to include the warnings about the reliability of the information mentioned in the national intelligence report.

    The Bush administration justified its war against Iraq because of Baghdad’s alleged threat to global security for possessing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

    Since US tanks rolled into Baghdad on 9 April they have not found any of the alleged arms.

    There is mounting concern worldwide that occupation forces have failed to provide evidence over the alleged threat Baghdad posed prior to the war.

    Australia probes reports

    About 2,000 Australian troops
    took part in the war

    As the US Congress continued investigations on whether intelligence reports had been manipulated to justify the war, Australian analysts will be called on to appear voluntarily before a committee investigating Baghdad’s alleged possession of WMD.

    David Jull, Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee which will investigate Canberra’s pre-war intelligence on Baghdad, said they would call on analysts to come forward next month.

    Australian Prime Minister John Howard, one of Bush’s staunchest allies during the war, was forced last week to open an inquiry into whether intelligence reports on Iraq had been over-exaggerated or misread.

    The investigation does not have the jurisdiction to question the Office of National Assessments (ONA) and the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), which assessed raw findings gathered from domestic and foreign sources.

    Jull said the investigation would report its findings by early December.


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