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CIA admits it didn't give all weapons data to UN, says report

PLA Daily 2004-02-23

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has acknowledged that it did not provide the United Nations with information about some sites in Iraq highly suspected of housing illicit weapons before the war, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The report said the acknowledgement, which involved 21 of the 105 sites in Iraq singled out by American intelligence before the war as the most highly suspected of housing illicit weapons, was contained in a Jan. 20 letter to Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, and contradicts public statements before the war by top Bush administration officials.

Both CIA director George J. Tenet and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said the United States had briefed UN inspectors on all of the sites identified as "high value and moderate value" in the weapons hunt.

The contradiction is significant, the report said, because Congressional opponents of the war were arguing a year ago that the United Nations inspectors should be given more time to complete their search before the United States and its allies began the invasion.

The White House instead insisted that it was fully cooperating with the inspectors, and at daily briefings, it issued assurances that the administration was providing the inspectors with the best information possible.

In a letter on March 6, 2003, Rice assured Levin that "United Nations inspectors have been briefed on every high or medium priority weapons of mass destruction, missile and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) - related site the US intelligence community has identified." Rice had relied on information provided by intelligence agencies in writing the letter, the report quoted senior administration officials as saying.

The report quoted Kevin as saying that he now believed Tenet had misled the Congress and that was "totally unacceptable."

The acknowledgement by the agency came after more than a year of questions from Levin, who said he believed the Bush administration had withheld the information because it wanted to persuade the American people that the United Nations-led hunt for weapons in Iraq had run its full course before the war.

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