Australian government under criticism regarding intelligence reports on Iraq WMD programs
Australia's government came under renewed criticism Tuesday for its decision to support the US and the British move to invading Iraq after a British parliamentary report questioned the war's justification.
Opposition Labor Party leader Simon Crean said the British report underscored concerns the three governments used faulty or misleading intelligence concerning Iraq's weapons programs to justify the war. According to AFP, he added the issue raised worrying questions about the Australian intelligence community's ability to effectively combat terrorism.
On his part, Prime Minister John Howard said he stands by his comments in February that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.
Howard on Tuesday denied basing his decision to dispatch 2,000 troops to war in Iraq purely on US or British claims, noting all intelligence reports on Iraq's weapons were assessed independently by local agencies.
"It is true that we relied overwhelmingly on both British and American intelligence (but) we made our own assessments," he said. "Necessarily it was based on judgment but I don't retreat from the decision we took," he said, adding, "I don't believe that the intelligence agencies deliberately set out to mislead us."
Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, told ABC Radio Australia News the British committee's conclusions should prompt a full explanation from Howard. "Mr. Howard has some fundamental questions now to answer about the credibility of his unqualified claim to the Australian parliament about Iraq's nuclear weapons program," Rudd said. (Albawaba.com)
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