Senate Report Says Hussein Didn't Support Al-Qaeda (Update2)
By William Roberts
Sept. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Declassified U.S. Senate reports said that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein didn't trust al-Qaeda and refused to support it.
“Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaeda and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime,'' one of the reports said. Hussein refused all requests from al-Qaeda to provide material or operational support, said the report issued in Washington today by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
A second committee report said that Iraq Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress told U.S. officials that Iraq possessed nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, information that later proved inaccurate.
Democrats said the reports show that statements by Bush administration officials before the Iraq war weren't supported by U.S. intelligence known at the time they spoke.
They include statements by Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, then Bush's national security adviser, linking Iraq to al-Qaeda, said Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee.
Cheney's statement that an Iraqi intelligence officer met in Prague with Mohammed Atta, a leader of the Sept. 11 hijackers, was “ not substantiated by the intelligence assessments at the time this statement was made by the vice president,'' Rockefeller said.
Rice's statement that “there are lot of tantalizing meetings between Iraq'' and “people who were involved in 9-11'' was “clearly false based upon what was known prior to the war,'' Rockefeller said.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said the reports contain little new information.
“All I can say is been there, done that,'' he told reporters at the daily White House briefing today.
Among the reports' conclusions:
-- "Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.''
-- "False information from the Iraqi National Congress - affiliated sources, was used to support key intelligence community assessments on Iraq and was widely distributed in intelligence products prior to the war.
"The Iraqi National Congress attempted to influence United States policy on Iraq by providing false information through defectors directed at convincing the United States that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and had links to terrorists.''
To contact the reporters on this story: William Roberts in Washington
Last Updated: September 8, 2006 12:48 EDT