Aussie PM under fire over CIA report

The political pressure is piling on Australian prime minister John Howard following a damning US report showing the CIA's pre-Iraq war intelligence failures.

    Howard (R) is accused of following Bush into the Iraq war

    The opposition Labour Party said on Saturday that the report

    showed Prime Minister John Howard had taken

    Australia to war on the basis of a lie and owed the electorate an



    Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said Howard used

    "the greatest intelligence failure since World War II" as

    justification for committing Australian troops to the Iraqi



    "If John Howard had any sense of self-respect today he would

    apologise to the Australian people for taking them to war on the

    basis of a lie," Rudd told reporters.


    "John Howard claimed that Iraq possessed stockpiles of completed

    chemical and biological weapons. He said we had to go to war to

    remove those weapons so that they would not get into the hands of

    terrorists," he said.


    The US Senate intelligence committee's report found that US

    intelligence agencies mischaracterised Iraq's weapons programs, and

    its key judgments were either overstated or not backed up with



    Royal commission


    "If John Howard had any sense of self-respect today he would

    apologise to the Australian people for taking them to war on the

    basis of a lie," Rudd told reporters.

    Kevin Rudd
    foreign affairs spokesman
    opposition Labour party

    Rudd said Howard had been forced to simply accept US

    intelligence on weapons of mass destruction because his government

    never gave Australian intelligence officials sufficient resources to

    check the accuracy of the claims.


    "John Howard's central failing was to rely almost exclusively on

    US intelligence which has now proven to be false and not to give the

    Australian intelligence community the resources to independently vet

    the intelligence product coming from America," Rudd said.


    Rudd repeated Labour's call for a royal commission - the most

    powerful judicial inquiry available under the Australian system,

    with the power to jail witnesses who refuse to testify - into

    pre-war intelligence failures.


    Iraq has emerged as a key issue in a national election due later

    this year, with Labour pledging to withdraw Australia's deployment by

    Christmas if elected and the government committed to staying in Iraq

    "until the job is done".


    Australia has about 850 troops involved in the Iraq campaign,

    down from 2,000 during the early months of last year's US-led invasion.



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