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Bush to set up independent intelligence inquiry: White House

PLA Daily 2004-02-02

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- Under the mounting political pressure, US President George W. Bush is reportedly to sign an executive order to set up an independent inquiry into the prewar intelligence failures about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The inquiry will look at what the United States knew and whether it used wrong intelligence information before launching the war against Iraq, The Associated Press reported Sunday, quoting a senior White House official as saying.

But the official gave no further details when the president will sign the executive order.

Until Friday, Bush had given a low-key reaction to the call foran independent probe into the reportedly US intelligence information failures in Iraq. Bush's decision would represent a turn-about of the White House stand.

Bush has been under mounting pressure since David A. Kay, the former chief US weapons inspector in Iraq, told Congress last weekthat the Iraq Survey Group had not found any evidence that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction before the war.

Kay told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States might have made wrong judgment, calling for "an outside inquiry" into this issue.

Kay's call was echoed by the Democrats who have voiced strong support for the independent probe into the issue.

The United States launched war against Iraq last March and toppled the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on theground that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to the United States.

However, despite the intense search by the Iraq Survey Group since the end last May of major combats in Iraq, no "smoking gun" has been found, which has undermined US credibility at home and abroad.

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