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CIA chief defends prewar intelligence

PLA Daily 2004-02-06

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief George Tenet on Thursday defended the agency's prewar intelligence on Iraq, saying that the intelligence was not manipulated and "No one told us what to say or how to say it."

In his first public defense of prewar intelligence, Tenet rebutted claims by David Kay, the former US chief weapons inspector, that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction before the US-led war on Iraq in March last year.

The search for banned weapons in Iraq is continuing and "despite some public statements, we are nowhere near 85 percent finished," he said in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington.

He said analysts had varying opinions on the state of Iraq's weapons programs, but "They never said there was an imminent threat."

They "painted an objective assessment for our policy makers of a brutal dictator who was continuing his efforts to deceive and build programs that might constantly surprise us and threaten our interests," he said.

Tenet said that "in the intelligence business, you are never completely wrong or completely right When the facts of Iraq are all in, we will neither be completely right nor completely wrong."

Kay resigned late last month and his statements at a congressional hearing last week that Iraq did not have the purported weapons have sparked an intense debate over the prewar intelligence the Bush administration used to justify the war.

The failure to find weapons of mass destruction is turning into a major political issue in the country before the presidential election in November. President George W. Bush is expected to announce an "independent, bipartisan" panel this week to review failures on Iraq intelligence.

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