Report: White House overstated Iraq threat

June 5, 2008 at 8:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 5 (UPI) -- Two Senate Intelligence Committee reports have concluded the Bush administration gave the public biased assessments before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Threats from both Saddam Hussein and Iran to U.S. national security were exaggerated, concluded the reports, which examined statements by top administration officials and looked at intelligence activities conducted by the Department of Defense without the knowledge of the intelligence community or the State Department, reported The Hill Thursday.

"In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even non-existent," committee Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said at a news conference. "As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed."

The Senate reports were released by a bipartisan majority, although some Republicans accused Democrats of making new political hay out of old issues and subjects.

One of the committee's reports particularly focused on Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. The report said the group performed poorly, and singled out an inappropriate December 2001 meeting with Iranian exiles that attempted to prove a terrorism case against Iran without adequately investigating gathered intelligence.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Thursday the Senate report was "a selective view" of pre-war intelligence.

"The administration's statements on Iraq were based on the very same intelligence that was given to the Congress, and they came to the same conclusions, as did other countries around the world," she said.

Perino said the Bush administration has "fully admitted" that "the issue about Iraq's WMD ultimately turned out to be false."

"And we have also taken steps to make sure that we can correct it for -- in the future," she said.

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