US team switches from WMD hunt

The Pentagon is planning to reassign intelligence staff looking for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to information gathering on resistance attacks instead.

    US troops have failed to stem the growing resistance attacks

    The change in priorities is seen by critics as a sign the Bush administration has given up on finding any WMDs.

    Officials said Pentagon leaders were contemplating shifting a number of intelligence officers, interrogators, translators, linguists and others from the 1400-member Iraq Survey Group (ISG) to combat the intensifying resistance.

    "What's more important right now and what's more destabilising: the insurgency or knowing about the WMD?" asked a defence official on condition of anonymity.

    Any shifted staff would expectedly augment efforts to prevent further attacks like those that have killed dozens in Baghdad this week and better identify who is involved with the resistance.

    Lawrence Di Rita, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's chief of staff, however, said the US was not diluting efforts to find the elusive weapons of mass destruction.

    "The ISG has a principal mission of WMD and that remains unchanged. And the emphasis remains unchanged," Di Rita said.

    "What's more important right now and what's more destabilising: the insurgency or knowing about the WMD?"

    Pentagon official

    Di Rita said no decision had been made on the reallocation of intelligence personnel, but other officials said it was very likely such a move would soon be made.

    More resources

    General John Abizaid, who as head of US Central Command leads the military effort in Iraq, "feels strongly that he needs more counter-terrorism resources and he is going to get them," Di Rita said.

    A CIA spokesman declined to comment on what CIA Director George Tenet's views were on the proposal to reallocate people from the weapons hunt.

    CIA adviser David Kay, who heads the ISG, reports to Tenet.

    Kay's group began its work in June. In an interim report this month, he said no actual weapons have been found, but told reporters that "does not mean we have concluded there are no actual weapons."

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.