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Washington File

11 June 2003

Congressional Committees Plan Hearings on Iraqi WMD Reports

(Congressional Report: Intelligence on Iraq's WMD programs) (530)
Washington -- Two congressional committees are examining U.S.
intelligence assessments that supported the contention that a
threatening WMD program existed in Iraq in the days leading up to the
war and that the regime had connections with international terrorist
groups, congressional leaders said June 11.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas
Republican, said his committee has already begun "a thorough and
bipartisan review of the documented intelligence" used to make the
assessments about Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, and will
also conduct hearings on the matter. Representative Porter Goss, a
Florida Republican and chairman of the House intelligence committee,
said his staff was also working on intelligence materials and he hoped
to have a full report out this summer.
"I believe that we are using the same exact approach in conducting the
appropriate oversight on this latest concern," Goss said at a joint
news conference on Capitol Hill with Roberts and Senate Armed Services
Chairman John Warner, a Virginia Republican. "It is a matter that we
are routinely charged with. It is a matter that we will handle
Hearings by the two congressional committees are customarily conducted
in closed sessions because of the highly classified nature of the
materials being discussed and presented.
Roberts said that he will handle the Senate committee's investigation
"in a responsible manner, untainted by politics, and in a bipartisan
manner." Several Democratic leaders in the Congress have voiced
concerns about the validity of U.S. intelligence reports that figured
prominently in the Bush administration's deliberations on the use of
military force against Iraq.
"Let me point out the joint inquiry by an independent staff into the
9/11 tragedy strongly criticized intelligence officials for not
connecting the dots and for being risk-averse; for failing to put
together a picture that seemed all too obvious after the fact,"
Roberts said. "Now, there seems to be a campaign afoot by some to
criticize the intelligence community and the president for connecting
the dots, for putting together a picture that seemed all too obvious
before the fact.
"Now, while I believe some of the criticism leveled on the
intelligence community has been understandable, certainly, given the
circumstances, and at times, constructive, in my view [though], some
of the attacks have been simply politics for political gain."
Roberts said he will begin hearings the week of June 16-20 on a number
of topics relevant to this review and as part of the congressional
committee's mandated oversight of the U.S. intelligence community. He
said it will be deliberate and bipartisan, and public statements will
be made as necessary.
Warner, who also sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he
urged the "American public to give us time and to feel a sense of
confidence that those of us here in the Congress are proceeding, as
we've done for many years on issues not unlike this one, to assess the
facts and then, at such time as we're ready, to let the members of the
committee ... express their views on the ultimate findings after we've
done our homework."
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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