CIA acknowledges lack of specific data on alleged Iraqi WMD before war

Published November 30th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

The CIA has admitted it "lacked specific information" about alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction when it compiled an intelligence estimate last year that served to justify the American-led invasion of Iraq. 


However, it said that and other uncertainties surrounding the case had been fully presented to US President Bush and other US policymakers in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a document often referred to by members of the Bush administration as a basis of their claim that Baghdad had an arsenal of WMD.  


Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Security Council last February that Saddam Hussein and his regime were "concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction" and that their weapons programs "are a real and present danger to the region and to the world."  


However, an explanation issued over the weekend by veteran CIA analyst Stuart Cohen, who was in charge of putting together the 2002 intelligence estimate and currently serves as vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, made clear the case against Iraq, as presented by the CIA behind closed doors, was much less clear-cut and more nuanced.  


"Any reader would have had to read only as far as the second paragraph of the Key Judgments to know that as we said, 'We lacked specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD program,'" Cohen wrote in an article posted on the agency's Web site, according to AFP.  


The document still concluded that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of the 150-kilometer limit imposed by the UN Security Council. It also said that Baghdad did not have nuclear weapons.  


Cohen said he still stood by those judgments. But he insisted the estimate he produced had "uncertainties" that "were highlighted in the Key Judgments and throughout the main text." (

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