Independence of Iraq probe queried

The people who will investigate US intelligence failures used to justify the Iraq war are already a matter of controversy.

    Chuck Robb (L) and Laurence Silberman (R) will co-chair panel

    Under strong political

    pressure, President George Bush established

     a bipartisan

    commission on Friday to investigate the



    Claims that Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass

    destruction were the main reason cited by Bush for the Iraq

    war, in which more than 500 US troops have died.

    According to the independent website,, Iraqi civilian casualties could be as high as 10,000.

    Bush noted during a press conference that former chief US weapons hunter David Kay had failed to confirm prewar intelligence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

    "We are determined to figure out why," he said.

    "We're also determined to make sure that American

    intelligence is as accurate as possible for every challenge in

    the future."

    Democrat criticism

    However, opposition Democrats immediately questioned the independence of the

    commission since its members were handpicked by Bush.

    They want the panel to investigate whether the

    Bush administration hyped up the threat.

    "To have a commission appointed exclusively by President

    Bush investigate his administration's intelligence failures in

    Iraq does not inspire confidence in its independence"

    Nancy Pelosi,
    US Democrat leader

    "To have a commission appointed exclusively by President

    Bush investigate his administration's intelligence failures in

    Iraq does not inspire confidence in its independence," said

    Nancy Pelosi of California, leader of the Democratic

    minority in the House of Representatives.

    And Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, said the

    commission "may provide President Bush with political cover,

    but it won't result in the investigation that the nation


    Commission members

    The commission

    will have nine members, seven of whom were

    named on Friday.

    • Chuck Robb, 64, is a former Democratic senator. A Marine Corps

      reserve member from 1970-1991, he fought in Vietnam. 

      Robb was governor

      of Virginia from 1982-1986, and was elected to the US Senate where

      he served from 1988-2000. He was on the Armed Forces and

      Intelligence committees.

    • Laurence Silberman, 68,  is a judge and a Republican. He was named to the

      federal appeals court for Washington by Ronald Reagan in 1985, a

      politically sensitive post in which he overturned the conviction of

      Oliver North in the Irangate scandal.

      He also served as US

      ambassador to Yugoslavia 1975-77, and has been a law professor at

      several prestigious US universities.

      War veteran

    • John McCain, 67, has been a Republican senator from Arizona since 1982. A

      former pilot and prisoner in Vietnam, i

      n 2000 he sought the Republican presidential


      A member of the Senate Armed Forces committee, McCain

      has already said

      he does

      not think Bush exaggerated the evidence to bolster his case for


    • Lloyd Cutler, 87, is a Democrat, legal scholar and consummate

      Washington insider.

      He was a legal adviser to the White House during

      the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

    • McCain (C) has said he does not
      believe Bush hyped Iraq's threat 

      Rick Levin, 56, is a Democrat and has been president of Bush's alma mater,

      Yale University, since 1993. He is an economist by training.

      Naval officer

    • Bill Studeman, 64, is an admiral and former deputy director of the CIA

      (1992-1995) - a post to which he was named by George Bush senior.


      naval intelligence officer, he served four tours of duty in Vietnam.

      He was also director of naval intelligence (1985-1988), before leading

      the National Security Agency.

    • Pat Wald, 75, has been a judge at the Hague-based International

      Criminal Court since 1992.

      She was named to the Washington federal appeals

      court in 1977 by then-president Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. 

      But Wald


      retired in 1999 and became an ICC magistrate whose work has included

      trials of the first criminals from the former Yugoslavia.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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